Britons face an alien and much quieter experience when they go to the pub, restaurants, hotels and shops, the government’s full post-lockdown rules reveal today.
The changes being brought in for England on July 4 warn against music and noise – including showing live sport – as people talking loudly or shouting poses a serious risk of spreading coronavirus.
Meanwhile, bars will be obliged to keep customers’ details for 21 days so that they can be traced if another drinker is diagnosed with the disease at a later stage. Pints could be ordered by smartphone, eateries will have to keep cutlery under tight control, and condiments will be supplied in sachets.
Hotels will also be radically affected, with face masks in shared spaces, room service left at the door, and lifts reserved for those who cannot avoid using them.
Businesses are also advised to threaten to call the police if people start flouting social distancing rules in their premises. Meanwhile, the blueprint for visitor attractions admits that some of the risks from the virus cannot be minimised because it would compromise counter-terrorism security.
The details emerged in a series of documents released by the government this morning covering all the parts of the economy that have been given permission to get up and running from ‘Super Saturday’.
Unveiling the changes yesterday, Boris Johnson said he wanted to ‘make life easier’ after an ‘incredibly tough time’ for people all over the country.
Alongside giving the green light to bars, restaurants, cinemas and hairdressers in England, he announced that the social distancing rule is being halved to ‘one metre plus’ to free up thousands of business, with precautions such as face masks deployed to make sure the risks of transmission stay ‘broadly’ the same.
Two households will also be able to gather indoors – meaning families will be able to reunite for the first time in months – though social distancing rules are still in place.
Other relaxations of rules include the resumption of church and other religious services – including wedding ceremonies for up to 30 people – though there is a ban on singing as it poses a ‘particular’ threat of spread.
However, nail bars, gyms and swimming pools will remain off limits and even the relaxed restrictions will come with strings attached, with social distancing measures still very much in place and encouraged by both Mr Johnson and his advisers.
The government is facing an angry backlash from sectors left out of the great revival today, with gyms and leisure centres warning they are looking at a ‘cataclysm’ with no revenue and costs piling up.
Pubs and Bars
Music must be turned down low, ketchup sachets will replace bottles, and pints should be ordered on your smartphone in pubs and restaurants in England, new guidance from the Government has said.
Not only will they welcome fewer people in order to ensure that customers are sat further apart, but the stereo, or football match on the TV, will also be turned down.
The guidance reads: ‘All venues should ensure that steps are taken to avoid people needing to unduly raise their voices to each other. This includes, but is not limited to, refraining from playing music or broadcasts that may encourage shouting, including if played at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult.’
This is because as people start shouting or speaking up they are more likely to launch the virus into the air and spread it to other customers – so-called aerosol transmission.
Customers will be obliged to supply their contact details on entry, which will be kept for 21 days so they can be tracked down if someone else in the venue is later diagnosed with coronavirus.
Pubs and restaurants will also be asked to get their customers to order food directly to their tables using a smartphone app, where possible.
Another casualty of the coronavirus restrictions is likely to be the bottle of vinegar or jar of mayonnaise, as the Government encourages businesses to replace these with disposable alternatives.
And gone are the days of picking up your own knives and forks at the counter. Cutlery should only be brought to the table with the food, according to the Government recommendations.
Meanwhile, queues are here to stay, as the guidance to ensure that people wait their turn outside venues.
This will mean that managers have to cooperate with their neighbours to ensure that queues waiting to get into two places do not mingle.
This cooperation could stretch as far as staggering opening times to ensure that people are not queuing and taking public transport to the venue at the same time.
The guidance says businesses should threaten to call the police if customers flout social distancing.
‘Where necessary, inform customers that police and the local authorities have the powers to enforce requirements in relation to social distancing and may instruct customers to disperse, leave an area, issue a fixed penalty notice or take further enforcement action,’ it says.
Phil Weaver, owner of The Old Smithy pub in Church Lawford, Warwickshire holds a pint of beer from behind a protective screen. Pubs will be allowed to reopen from July 4
Like pub-goers, restaurant diners will also have to follow several new rules as part of the ‘new normal’.
You’ll have to book before visiting the restaurant, with the need to follow distancing rules meaning capacity may be lower than usual.
Contact details will be kept on file for three weeks to ensure people can be tracked down if there is an outbreak in the venue.
The guidance says tables should be rearranged so they are not facing directly at each other if there cannot be two metres between them.
Restaurants will also be installing screens, sanitisers and implementing one-way systems to manage customer queues and meet guidelines.
Customers from different households should also be seated side-by-side if two metre gaps can’t be maintained to reduce transmission risk.
The advice suggests some restaurants could introduce apps that allow customers to order remotely, while others will use disposable paper menus and ensure service is reduced to lower crowding in kitchens.
‘Indoor table service must be used where possible, alongside further measures such as assigning a single staff member per table,’ the guidance says.
‘Outdoor table service should also be encouraged, although customers are permitted to stand outside if distanced appropriately.
‘Where bar or counter service is unavoidable, preventing customers from remaining at the bar or counter after ordering.’
However, with the expected reduced capacity, some smaller firms may decide it isn’t financially viable for them to open at all.
Hairdressers and Barbers
Another long-awaited service, Britons will finally be able to get a haircut from July 4, with people all over the country having turned to relatives for dodgy snips during lockdown, with some even deciding to let it all grow for several months.
However, like pubs and restaurants, trips to the barber will be a far more complicated affair than they were pre-lockdown.
Your barber must wear a full visor and gown while cutting your hair, with all equipment, including scissors and combs disinfected after every customer.
Unsurprisingly, this could lead to slower service but refreshments and magazines, usual features to enjoy while you wait, will also be banned.
Britons have also been advised not to bring jewellery, handbags and jackets into salons as the virus can stay on fabrics and metal for several days.
Some salons may even require customers to wear facial coverings and payments must be contactless – with hairdressers encouraged to also ban tips.
Another hurdle to overcome will be the huge demand for a haircut, with salons told to operate at 50 per cent of full capacity to avoid overcrowding.
This has led to some salons already claiming huge backlogs of bookings from Britons eager to lose their lockdown fuzz.
And you can also forget about sharing your coronavirus frustrations with your barber, with hairdressers told to avoid small talk with clients.
A barber wears a protective face mask as he cuts the hair of a customer in central Leeds, northern England just before lockdown was introduced. From July 4, barbers will be required to wear full protective gear
A trip to the movies is a popular pastime for Britons and, unsurprisingly, the return of the cinema is sure to be a popular decision.
However, sitting in a dark theatre, packed together with potentially hundreds of other cinema-goers to watch the latest blockbuster, could potentially be a hotbed for coronavirus spread.
To combat this, cinemas will be required to limit capacity and bookings.
This will ensure that movie lovers can remain socially distanced, whether in the theatre or queuing up outside.
Another issue is that several productions, including the latest installment of James Bond, have been delayed amid the pandemic.
To combat this, cinemas could offer a range of classic movies to whet the appetites of film lovers before the summer’s blockbusters are ready.
In a move more suited to some of the films it puts on, Showcase Cinemas said it had invested in an ‘anti-viral fogging machine that eliminates airborne viruses on contact’.
The machine will be used on every seat between showings.
Staycations are back on the agenda, with hotels, campsites and holiday cottages permitted as long as they comply with ‘Covid secure’ guidelines.
These guidelines include regular deep-cleaning of rooms, guests advised to wear face masks in communal areas, and lifts being reserved for people who absolutely must use them.
The beloved hotel mini-bars and breakfast buffets have been banned, with tea and coffee sachets in bedrooms also either removed or quarantined for 72 hours between guests.
Meals will be available through room service left outside your door, and guests will have to take your own luggage into your room.
The guidelines listed by the government today include: ‘Considering minimising lift usage from reception, and providing clear signage for new lift rules;
‘Where offering room service, taking measures such as dropping butler’s trays outside door, and encouraging tips to be added to the bill;
‘Ensuring that housekeeping staff follow government handwashing guidelines, and making a checklist of all hand contact services to be cleaned when each guests vacates.
‘Encouraging guests to wear masks on communal corridors.’
Camping sites and caravan parks were not expected to be reopened on July 4, but Boris Johnson’s announcement means Britons will be able to pitch up their tents this summer.
There will need to be round-the-clock cleaning of facilities with shared blocks thoroughly and regularly cleaned by operators.
The guidance says that businesses should consider ‘introducing a system of staggered entry and booked timeslots for using shower facilities’.
Any communal kitchens will need to be closed where social distancing cannot be maintained.
Indoor children’s play areas will be out of bounds, in line with wider Government guidance.
Places of worship
The lockdown has had a significant impact on worshippers, with Easter and Ramadan and Eid among the religious events affected.
To the delight of many Britons, mass gatherings for prayers will be allowed from July 4, though distance will still have to be maintained.
And couples across the country will rejoice to know that weddings, as well as baptisms, will be allowed again, though guests will be limited to 30, which may cause altogether different issues.
Churches, mosques, synagogues and temples will be required to be regularly cleaned and provide facilities like sanitiser stations.
Singing will also be banned, to stop the potential spread of the virus.
Playgrounds and outdoor gyms
The risk of coronavirus transmission outdoors is thought to be low, paving the way for playgrounds and outdoor gyms to be reopened.
It is welcome news for parents, with many children still off school and will give them an opportunity to socialise.
Gym-goers will also be cheered by the news, though indoor gyms will still remain closed.
Libraries and community centres
Libraries will be reopened, with Cilip, the UK’s library and information, providing guidance for staff and members of the public.
Despite fears that handling books could pass on the virus, the body found that the risk of picking up a book handled by someone infected with Covid-19 is negligible after 24 hours. If covered in plastic, the risk is negligible after 72 hours.
This means books could be ‘quarantined’ after being returned with a delay before they are back on the shelves.
Libraries are also expected to set up appointments and click-and-collect systems to manage football and discourage browsing.
Bingo halls and community centres will also be able to open on July 4, provided social distancing is maintained.
Museums and galleries
In a less positive note, museums and galleries have warned that they may never be able to reopen because of the financial impact of the pandemic.
The heads of the Tate, National Gallery, British Museum, Victoria And Albert Museum, Science Museum Group and Natural History Museum are yet to confirm opening dates, despite being given government permission to open their doors on July 4.
When they do eventually open, they are expected to have to use appointment and booking systems.
Directors of the Museums Association, Sharon Heal, said visitors should expect a different experience when they do return.
She said: ‘Where they can, museums are planning measures such as one-way systems and timed entry, and implementing strict health and safety measures in line with Government guidance. For those museums that do reopen next month, the experience for visitors will be different – cafes, interactives and play areas might not be open, but the welcome from front of house staff will be as warm as ever.’
Funfairs, theme parks and model villages
Funfairs and adventure parks will be allowed to reopen on July 4, promising summer thrills and fun that many feared wouldn’t be available this year.
Model villages will also be allowed to reopen, as will inside areas of zoos that were not previously reopened.
Alton Towers has announced it will open most outdoor rides and attractions on July 4, as have Chessington, Thorpe Park and Legoland.
So what won’t be reopening?
Though the country is firmly back on the path to normality, several sectors will not be reopening on July 4.
The government feels that these areas are currently incompatible with social distancing measures, though Boris Johnson has promised to set up ‘taskforces’ to look into getting them up and running as soon as possible.
The following will remain closed:
- Massage, tattoo and piercing parlours.
- Bowling alleys
- Ice skating rinks
- Indoor play areas
- Nail bars and beauty salons
- Indoor fitness and dance studios
- Indoor gyms and sports venues and facilities
- Exhibition and conference centres used for external events
- Swimming pools and water parks
Can I hug my grandchildren yet? Is the gym still off limits? How many people can I invite for dinner? What you can – and cannot – do in post-lockdown England from July 4
Boris Johnson announced an unwinding of the lockdown in England last night, saying coronavirus had dwindled enough to make ‘life easier’.
But ministers admit that the new rules are more complicated – and people will have to use ‘common sense’ to navigate the new ‘normal’.
The government has issued guidance in an attempt to clear up some of the more puzzling aspects of the arrangements.
When and where are things changing?
The overhaul announced by the PM yesterday does not come into effect until July 4 – meaning there is now nearly two weeks in which the public must ignore them and stick to the old rules.
It will also only apply in England for now. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland control their own lockdowns and have different guidance. Nicola Sturgeon has insisted the two-metre rule will stay in force north of the border for now.
So when the time comes, what can I do in England?
Essentially, two households will be allowed to meet up in any location – public or private, indoors or outdoors. And they will be permitted to stay overnight at each other’s homes or together in hotels, holiday cottages and campsites.
That means dinner parties are back on the agenda, as well as pub lunches. It benefits larger families, who were previously much more constrained as the total size of gatherings could not be more than six people.
But only two families can be involved, and they must maintain social distancing.
The rules are not exclusive, meaning you can meet up with one household, and then separately with another household. For example, lunch with one set of grandparents could be followed by dinner with the other set.
The government is allowing pubs, restaurants, bars, cinemas, campsites, theme parks, museums and art galleries to open, so there will be more scope for people to enjoy the new freedoms.
So summer holidays are back on?
Yes, within the limits. Staying overnight away from your main home is allowed from July 4, meaning you can go to hotels and bed and breakfasts, or go to any second property you own.
The Foreign Office still advises against all non-essential travel abroad, so insurance for going away is likely to be a problem.
The 14-day quarantine on all arrivals to the UK will continue to apply, although the government is due to announce ‘air bridges’ to low-infection countries such as Spain, France, Italy and Turkey.
Can I hug my grandchildren yet?
There had been speculation that the government would expand social ‘bubbles’ so that extended families could join together than mix freely.
But that idea seems to have been shelved. People must still stay at least a metre apart. The only exception to that is if a single-adult household has merged with another household’s bubble – a loosening that was announced earlier this month to benefit people who live on their own and single parents.
What about if we stay outdoors?
The existing rules state that you can meet outdoors in groups of six people from different households.
That will still apply after July 4. But in addition, two households can meet outdoors without any limit on the total numbers.
Will public toilets reopen?
Councils are responsible for public toilets, so the situation will vary across the country. Check before you go out to avoid being caught short.
Can I go to the gym yet, or watch a football match or concert?
Sadly not. The government says the risk of indoor gyms is still too high, although Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden says they hope to make another announcement next month.
Football matches in stadiums are off-limits to crowds. And concerts are considered a ‘particular’ risk as singing and talking loudly tends to spread the virus.
What about churches, weddings and funerals?
Places of worship can open for services and group prayer from July 4 as long as precautions are in place.
However, singing hymns is not permitted due to the potential for infection.
Weddings can resume with up to 30 people – but receptions will be much lower-key affairs, as just two households can attend.
Funerals are subject to the same guidance as before, with only close family advised to attend.
What happens if I break the rules?
An upper limit of 30 people at a gathering – unless they are all from just two households – will stay in place, with the police able to enforce that if necessary.
However, the government says it will essentially trust the public to follow the guidelines without any threat of punishment.
The new advice says: ‘The overwhelming majority of the British public have complied with the regulations, and the wider guidance on how to keep them and their friends and family as safe as possible.
‘Taking this into account, we trust people to continue acting responsibly, and to follow the guidance
The great back to work guide: What happens after furlough? Is it safe to travel to the office? Will I lose my job if I refuse? We answer your most pressing questions
Working lives across the country have changed beyond recognition since the pandemic.
Official figures show that one in four working adults has been furloughed, while around half of employees have been doing their jobs from home.
Now, as many businesses are beginning to re-open, workers are facing fresh uncertainty. Here, FIONA PARKER and AMELIA MURRAY talk you through all you need to know . . .
Back to work: Government advice on social distancing measures in the workplace is not law, but under the Health and Safety at Work Act, employers must ensure workers are safe
1. Can I still work from home if I choose?
The Government said if you can work from home, you should, but legally your employer does not have to let you, so your job could be at risk if you refuse. But always ask the question.
Many firms have already told staff they will not return until September. If your employer is difficult, you could be able to claim unfair dismissal if you have a good reason for not going back yet.
If you are shielding because of a medical condition, you may be protected by the Equality Act, which prevents disabled workers from being discriminated against.
2. What if I don’t think it will be safe?
Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, employers must ensure workers are safe. If you are concerned about social distancing measures, talk to your boss.
If you are ignored, contact a trade union or health and safety representative. If you still have concerns, call the Health and Safety Executive on 0300 003 1747.
3. How soon could I have to go back?
There is no legal requirement of how much notice an employer must give you before summoning you back to work.
But they are expected to be reasonable. Jemma Fairclough-Haynes, an employment law specialist at Orchard Employment Law, says: ‘We advise businesses to give staff at least a week’s notice.’
Many firms have already told staff they will not return until September. If your employer is difficult, you may be able to claim unfair dismissal if you have a good reason for not going back
4. Can furlough be part-time?
From July 1, your employer will be able to furlough you on a pro-rata basis, as long as you’ve been furloughed for at least three weeks between March 1 and June 30.
So if you normally work five days a week, you could be furloughed for two and work the remaining three. This is also the case if you have a limited company and furloughed yourself.
Will the Government still pay my wages?
At present the Government is paying 80 per cent of furloughed workers’ wages — up to £2,500 a month.
From August, employers will have to start paying National Insurance and pension contributions again.
Then, from September, the Government will reduce the amount it pays towards workers’ wages to 70 per cent, up to £2,187.
At this point, employers must top up furlough employees’ pay to 80 per cent.
The scheme is set to finish in October. During this final month, the Government will pay just 60 per cent of workers’ wages.
Again, employers must top staff members’ pay up to at least 80 per cent. Some firms are paying furloughed staff 100 per cent of their pay.
5. Could my hours be reduced?
A short-time working clause in your contract or furlough agreement will allow your employer to reduce your working hours.
You will be entitled to statutory guarantee pay for the days you would normally be working.
This will only be £30 a day for five days over a three-month period, so £150 maximum.
Check your contract, as your employer may offer a better scheme. You can apply for redundancy if you’ve received less than half a week’s pay for four or more weeks in a row, or six weeks in a 13-week period.
6. Can I apply for another job?
The Government allows furloughed employees to take second jobs, but many employers don’t.
If you are doing anything that provides revenue or services to your employer while furloughed, it could be committing a criminal offence.
If this happens, complain to your boss in writing and if you are ignored, complain directly to HMRC. You can still apply for any future permanent jobs while you are furloughed.
7. What happens if I have to self-isolate?
Many employers are paying staff as normal if they are forced to self-isolate and can still work from home.
If you can’t, you’ll be entitled to statutory sick pay at £95.85 a week, as long as you earn at least £120 a week and are not self-employed.
‘Many employers also pay occupational sick pay, which is much more generous,’ says Nadia Motraghi, senior barrister at Old Square Chambers.
8. What about the self-employed?
A short-time working clause in your contract or furlough agreement will allow your employer to reduce your working hours
If you are shielding, you can apply for a grant from the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, which has been extended.
You can claim up to 80 per cent of average trading profits over three months, capped at £7,500.
The money is taxable. You have until July 13 to claim your first payment and can claim a second payment in August if your business is still adversely affected, but it will not be as generous — 70 per cent, capped at £6,570. If you are not eligible, you may be entitled to Universal Credit.
9. Can I get home equipment?
Your employer is not legally obliged to kit you out with a home office. However, it does have to ensure staff are working safely.
‘This may include providing proper equipment, such as an office chair,’ says Helen Watson, head of employment at law firm Aaron & Partners.
If your employer does not reimburse you for the equipment you need, you may be able to claim back tax relief.
You’ll need to send a P87 claims form to HMRC. The Government increased the flat-rate tax deduction to cover additional expenses, such as phone calls and energy bills, from £4 to £6 a week in April.
Many employers are paying staff their normal salaries if they are forced to self-isoalte and can still work from home
10. Has my pension been affected?
Unless your employer has topped up your furlough wages, your pension contributions will drop, because they will be based on four-fifths of your usual salary — or less if you earn more than £30,000.
The Government is covering the cost of at least 3 per cent employer contributions on earnings from £520 to £2,500 a month until August 1, when bosses are expected to begin paying again.
11. What if I’m made redundant?
If you are made redundant while on furlough, your rights are no different. Your employer must consult with you beforehand.
The statutory minimum notice period for redundancy is one week for every year you have been employed, up to 12 weeks.
If you have worked at the company for at least two years, statutory redundancy pay is a week’s wages for every year you have been there, for those aged 22 to 40.
This increases to a week-and-a-half’s wages once you are 41 or older. Many firms will offer their own redundancy packages.
Redundancy pay is not taxable under £30,000.
Stay home: Many firms have told staff they will not be returning to the office until September at the earliest, or are asking employees to return only if they can avoid public transport
12. Will I still get Universal Credit?
If you get a new job you must contact the Department for Work and Pensions immediately to inform them.
Depending on your new wages, your Universal Credit payments will change, but they may not stop completely.
Typically, for every £1 you earn, Universal Credit payments are reduced by 63p. People with children or a partner with disabilities, may have a ‘work allowance’ that protects their benefits.
13. Can I be forced to take holiday?
Your employer can ask you to take annual leave, but should give you notice.
This is usually double the amount of time they want you to have off, says employment lawyer Danielle Parsons from Slater & Gordon. So you should get two weeks’ notice to take one week off.
If you don’t want to take holiday, you could ask for it to be carried forward.
Ms Parsons adds: ‘The Government has introduced a temporary law, which allows employees affected by coronavirus to carry over up to four weeks of paid holiday into the next two years.’
14. What if I can’t get childcare?
If you cannot organise childcare, your employer can ask you to take unpaid or annual leave.
But Ms Parsons says it may not be reasonable for employers to insist on your return if you have childcare issues.
The first step is to see if you can come to a solution with your employer. If that fails, she says you could have a potential employment tribunal claim for discrimination, depending on the circumstances.