In a further relaxation of the coronavirus lockdown, Boris Johnson says bars, restaurants, hotels and museums can open from July 4 with distancing down to 1 metre. Tony McDonough reports
People will no longer have to abide by the 2-metre social distancing rule as Prime Minister announces bars, restaurants, hotels and museums will be allowed open from July 4.
However, while acknowledging the relaxation will offer a boost to the beleaguered hospitality sector, Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram insisted coronavirus still posed a real health risk and that the public should remain cautious.
Churches, campsites and hairdressers will also be allowed to open from July 4, although nail bars, massage parlours, gyms, nightclubs, bowling alleys and casinos will remain closed for the moment.
Theatres and concert halls will be also be allowed to reopen but live performances will be prohibited. This is because of concerns that the exhales of breath involved in singing raised the risk of transmission
Mr Johnson said the rule insisting people remained 2 metres apart would be relaxed to 1 metre, although he urged people wherever possible to remain 2 metres apart. He added: “e will advise people to keep a social distance of 1-metre-plus, meaning they should remain 1 metre apart, while taking mitigations to reduce the risk of transmission.”
Venues will be expected to collect and keep the contact details of visitors, so they can be traced in the event of a fresh local outbreak of the virus.
The Government is looking to balance the health risks posed by the currently declining COVID-19 virus against the damage lockdown is doing to the economy. However, with fresh outbreaks in post-lockdown Germany the fear of a second wave of the, particularly from the autumn, remains real.
Commenting on the Prime Minister’s announcement, Mr Rotheram said: “I know that many people are keen to return to some kind of normality and given the importance of hospitality and tourism to our local economy, today’s announcement will be seen as positive by many across our region.
“Any easing of lockdown carries risk, so I would urge everyone to continue to act cautiously, to use these new freedoms very carefully and remember that space on things like public transport will remain limited for some time.
“Disappointingly, we heard little today from the Prime Minister to give us confidence that the test and trace scheme will be operating properly when these restrictions are eased. Nor did we hear details on how any local lockdowns – which he again mentioned today – would work in practice, especially with regard to how they would be enforced or funded.
“Our six local councils have already been left with a £241m black hole in their finances because the Government has not yet kept to its promise to provide ‘whatever it takes’.
“Government is now presenting them with a range of new challenges on testing and lock downs, so it must also now give them the proper funding to continue meeting those challenges in the next few months and beyond.”