By Nathan Findlay –
April 12 marks the start of step two of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown for England which brings new rules for non-essential retail, pubs and more.
The rules were last changed on March 29, and mostly revolved around outdoor gatherings and activities, allowing groups of six to gather outdoors for the first time since the new year.
So far the easing of lockdown rules has been dependent on factors such as the success of the vaccine rollout and infection rates not risking a surge in hospitalisations.
In a press conference on Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that moving to step two of the roadmap was “fully justified by the data”.
While the distance between step one and step two was only a couple of weeks, we can expect to be waiting a while longer to see if step three will go ahead as further changes will not occur any earlier than May 17.
For now though, here’s what is changing from April 12.
What you CAN do
From the 12th, all non-essential retail, as well as ‘personal care’ premises such as hairdressers and nail salons will be permitted to reopen.
Public buildings such as libraries and community centres will also open their doors once more.
Indoor gyms and leisure facilities will be reopening and the majority of activities will be available. Some elements such as personal training and swimming lessons may still be unavailable, however. Be sure to check with your local facility to see what’s running.
For further entertainment, most outdoor attractions and settings including outdoor hospitality venues, zoos, theme parks, and drive-in cinemas will also be starting up once more.
Those planning a weekend getaway will be pleased to know that self-contained accommodation such as campsites and holiday lets, can also reopen.
Be sure to check your chosen spot in advance, however, as locations will only be reopening where the indoor facilities are not shared with other households.
Pubs, Restaurants and Other Hospitalities
The big one for many will be thatpubs, restaurants, bars and other hospitality services will all be reopening for outdoor service. There will no longer be a need for a substantial meal to be served with alcohol, and there will be no curfew.
There are a few caveats, however. Table service only will continue, meaning customers must order, eat and drink while seated, and wider social distancing measures will remain in place.
Any indoor settings must be visited alone or within your household group, and outdoor settings will be restricted to groups of six or two households.
For those wishing to visit family in care homes, residents will now be allowed a second regular visitor.
A test will be required before each entry and specialist PPE will be provided on-site. Babies and toddlers will be able to accompany visitors and visitors will be allowed to hold hands.
Gatherings of parents and children of up to 15 people indoors will be allowed once more. This number doesn’t include children under the age of five.
Funerals will continue to allow up to a maximum of 30 attendees, and the number of people able to attend weddings, receptions and commemorative events such as wakes will rise to 15 in facilities that are permitted to open.
What you CAN’T do
Several rules and restrictions will remain in place until a later date, once it’s been established that the current level of restrictions doesn’t lead to new spikes in infections.
Working from Home
For now, it is still being recommended that those who can work from home should do so, and any domestic travel should be kept to a minimum.
Saunas and Steam Rooms
As alluded to above, several facilities and operations within gyms and leisure facilities will remain closed for the time being, as social distancing measures remain in place.
Facilities such as saunas and steam rooms will remain closed, and operations such as personal trainers and swimming lessons may not be available.
All international travel is currently deemed illegal, and will likely be one of the last restrictions to change.
Cinemas and other indoor entertainment venues are still closed for now, but are expected to open as part of step three.
Only outdoor seating for pubs, bars and restaurants will be allowed. Indoor seating for such venues will not be available until May 17 at the earliest
The changes taking place tomorrow will likely come as positive news for most people.
Social distancing and masks are still going to be required in certain areas, but it will be a positive experience for many to able to take part in certain activities once more.
After such a difficult time for many local businesses and operations, it is hoped that they will see some positive outcomes to being able to reopen once more.
This isn’t going to be a fast process where the whole of the UK goes back to normal overnight, but this is a great start by opening all these things back up to the public.