24 June 2020 | UK NEWS
Yesterday afternoon, the UK Government announced perhaps the most anticipated of lockdown-easing measures: the reopening of the pubs.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that, from 4th July, the hospitality industry was free to open again. This means that hotels, restaurants, hairdressers and pubs will once again become part of our lives.
The two-metre rule was also slashed down to “one metre plus”, following pressure by MPs to restart the economy. Boris did, however, say that “where it is possible to keep two metres apart, people should”.
Other announcements included that weddings will be allowed to have up to 30 attendees, places of worship will be allowed to hold services, and that theatres can re-open, but they will not be allowed to hold live performances. Indoor animal attractions such as zoos, aquariums, farms, safari parks and wildlife centres will also be allowed to re-open.
Johnson also reiterated that these changes were reversible and he would not hesitate to “apply the brakes” if things got worse again.
Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer welcomed the announcements, saying “I believe the Government is trying to do the right thing, and in that I support them”.
In his speech to Parliament, Johnson said Britain’s “long national hibernation” was beginning to come to an end.
“Today, we can say that our long national hibernation is beginning to come to an end and life is returning to our streets and to our shops; the bustle is starting to come back and a new but cautious optimism is palpable.
“But I must say to the House, it will be all too easy for that frost to return, and that is why we will continue to trust in the common sense and the community spirit of the British people to follow this guidance, to carry us through and to see us to victory over this virus.”
He continued: “In the first half of May, nearly 69,000 people tested positive for Covid-19 across the UK. By the first half of June, that total had fallen by nearly 70% to just under 22,000.
“The number of new infections is now declining by between 2% and 4% every day. Four weeks ago, an average of one in 400 people in the community in England had Covid-19 – in the first half of June, this figure was one in 1,700.”
On social distancing, the PM said: “Given the significant fall in the prevalence of the virus, we can change the two-metre social distancing rule from July 4th.”
He added: “Where it is possible to keep two metres apart, people should. But where it is not, we will advise people to keep a social distance of one metre plus, meaning they should remain one metre apart while taking mitigations to reduce the risk of transmission.”
However, it was also reported in The Telegraph that some businesses have complained that the level of red tape in the newly-eased regulations can at times be excessive, confusing and difficult to comprehend.
We will bring you further updates on the progress of easing the lockdown as this continues.
Editor’s note: we at Wolves particularly enjoyed this performance of “Classic Boris” tropes during the Prime Minister’s speech in the Commons yesterday: