The government have just made some major changes to the lockdown restrictions in England after they said a falling infection rate had now made it safe to reopen swathes of the economy and relax rules on social contact.
Two-metre rule relaxed
Social distancing rules are being eased from the current two metre advice when travelling on public transport or visiting shops to a new "one metre plus" system.
The new guidance says people should remain at least one metre apart when outside their homes but will be asked to take other "mitigations", including the use of face coverings to limit the transmission of the disease.
Outdoor gatherings of up to six people from six different households will continue as normal, but with those attending asked to follow the new one metre advice.
However, the new guidelines will also allow two households of any size to meet outdoors provided they maintain social distancing.
The biggest change on social contact is that households will be able to meet for the first time indoors with one other household provided they also follow the one metre rule.
And the Government has been clear these meetings are not subject to "exclusivity", meaning a family could meet with one set of grandparents on one day and meet the other set the following day.
The rules will also allow households visiting each other to stay overnight.
However, there are no changes to the 'Support Bubble' system which allows single adult families to link up with one other household provided they do this exclusively.
Major reopening of shops, pubs and bars
From 4 July a whole host of hospitality and leisure businesses will be given the greenlight to open, provided they implement new safety measures to ensure staff and customers can follow social distancing rules.
Crucially, the limit on two households meeting indoors also applies when visiting any of the newly opened businesses.
In simple terms, it means you can go for dinner or drinks with people from one other household but bigger get togethers remain banned.
The full list of premises given the greenlight to reopen from 4 July includes:
- Hotels, hostels bed and breakfast accommodation, holiday apartments or homes, cottages or bungalows, campsites, caravan parks or boarding houses
- Places of Worship
- Community Centres
- Restaurants, Cafes and Workplace Canteens
- Bingo Halls
- Theatres and concert halls (provided they are not putting on live performances)
- Museums and galleries
- Hair salons and barbers
- Outdoor playgrounds
- Outdoor gyms
- Funfairs, theme parks and adventure parks and activities
- Amusement arcades
- Outdoor skating rinks
- Other indoor leisure centres or facilities, including indoor games, recreation and entertainment venues
- Social Clubs
- Model villages
- Indoor attractions at aquariums, zoos, safari parks, farms, wildlife centres and any place where animals are exhibited to the public as an attraction
All of those planning to open will be asked to apply new Covid secure guidelines which are expected to be announced later today.
But they are expected to include new requirements for protective screens, an increase in handwashing facilities and other measures to ensure the 1m rules are followed.
Businesses are also set to be asked to register customers to ensure contact tracing can be easily carried out if someone subsequently contracts the disease.
And the guidelines for places of worship come with a number of caveats. For instance, wedding ceremonies of up to thirty people will be permitted from July but any subsequent receptions or dinners would be limited to the two household restrictions.
Staying shut for now
Meanwhile, a host of other businesses will remain shut until medical advice says it is safe for a further relaxation of the rules.
- Bowling alleys and indoor skating rinks
- Indoor play areas including soft-play
- Nail bars and beauty salons
- Massage, tattoo and piercing parlours
- Indoor fitness and dance studios, and indoor gyms and sports venues/facilities
- Swimming pools and water parks
- Exhibition or Conference Centres - where they are to be used for exhibitions or conferences, other than for those who work for that venue