96 days in and changes are afoot. Shops are now free to open, but the 2 metre social distancing (except for people who live together) remains. There is a loosening of regulations allowing families, who do not live together normally, to meet.
All shops have adapted the procedures of food stores with ‘in’ and ‘out’ entrances and exits, directions of travel and lines on the ground, inside and outside, at 2 metre spacing. Perspex barriers at the cashouts are universal, but some staff and customers wear masks and some don’t. Some school pupils have gone back.(see full details at the end of this post)
Football is being played in empty grounds, but the players apart from touching fists instead of shaking hands seem to have little regard for the non-touching rule at other times. Many Premier League matches are being televised ‘free to air’ and on radio with simulated crowd noises in some cases.
The weather has been unseasonably hot, leading to beaches in some parts of the country being packed with no regard for social distancing. There seems to be a feeling by many that if they don’t know anyone who has the virus then ‘anything goes’. Liverpool United won the Premier League title before the season has ended, leading to large celebrations in that city with total disregard for health considerations. There have also been mass protests as a result of one police action on a black suspect who died in the USA. This has lead to worldwide gatherings with disregard for distancing and injuries to police and protesters.
The three events above compounded by the announcement that social distancing is to be reduced to one metre-plus, pubs and restaurants will be able to open on 4th July and that holiday flights will begin soon, have led some people to believe it will all soon be over despite the warnings that a second wave of illness is extremely likely.
It will be interesting to see whether there is a further rise in cases in the next two weeks as a result of the gatherings of this last week.
The new regulations from 4th July 2020
The two-metre social distancing rule will be reduced to “one-metre plus” – Pubs and restaurants can reopen but will have to take the names and contact details of customers in case they need to be reached as part of the government’s test and trace programme – People will be allowed to stay overnight at hotels, bed and breakfasts and campsites – Hairdressers and barbers can reopen – Community centres and bingo halls will be permitted to reopen – Wedding services of up to 30 people will be allowed, provided social distancing is maintained, with places of worship permitted to reopen – Outdoor gyms and playgrounds can be used – All reopened premises will have to introduce a range of safety measures to ensure they are “COVID secure” – Gatherings of two different households can take place indoors, providing social distancing is maintained, meaning families will be reunited and dinner parties will be allowed. People are however still advised to limit the time they spend with others – Most leisure facilities and tourist attractions can reopen.
What restrictions are still in place?
People still can’t hug their loved ones – Theatres and concert halls can begin operating, but cannot stage live performances – Nightclubs, indoor gyms and beauty salons must remain closed “for now” – The government is hoping to reopen gyms and leisure centres in mid-July – Spas, casinos, nail bars, tattoo parlours, massage parlours, soft play areas, swimming pools, bowling alleys and water parks cannot reopen
What people could already do before:
Gather in groups of up to six people in public or private outdoor spaces, as long as social distancing was practised – Visit non-essential shops – Play sports such as tennis and football with the people that they meet, but only if it is possible to keep a two-metre distance – Return to school if they are in reception, Year 1, Year 6 or of nursery age – despite teaching unions expressing serious doubts – Meet loved ones if they had been “shielding” from the virus – Visit outdoor retail spaces such as outdoor markets and car showrooms where social distancing can be observed – Return home from university if it was a permanent move – Go to property viewings in person and visit agents for both sales and rentals – Invite nannies and childminders to come to their house to look after children, provided good public health measures are adhered to – Form a “support bubble” with one other household – meeting inside and staying overnight – if they live alone or are a single parent with a child under 18
The government introduced fines for breaking lockdown rules in March which later increased from £60 to £100. Repeat offenders will see the fine double for each subsequent breach to a maximum of £3,200.