After being closed for more than three months due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is finally time for pubs, restaurants, hairdressers to throw open their doors to customers once again. England is today entering a new phase of lockdown as measures are eased further, with the reopening of a lot of businesses causing the day to be dubbed ‘Super Saturday’. As well as pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and cinemas reopening, two households can now meet inside and staying away from home overnight is now allowed. The two-metre rule has also been slashed to ‘one metre plus’, in a move made by Boris Johnson to help get the economy back on its feet.
Today’s changes apply only to England, with local governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland setting their own rules on when lockdown rules will lift or change.
The new rules will also not apply to Leicester for another couple of weeks or so, because it has been put into a stricter local lockdown. As well as pubs, bars, restaurants, hairdressers and cinemas reopening, other visitor attractions including museums, galleries, hotels, campsites and caravan parks can also reopen. But there is also a list of premises that must remain closed, and that includes nightclubs, nail bars and salons, indoor play areas, gyms, conference centres and exhibition halls.
Although many will be excited to see a step back towards normality today, all of these places will look very different to how they did before, with social distancing measures in place. Pubs across the country have been kitted out with perspex screens, separated furniture and plenty of hand sanitiser. They were given the go-ahead to reopen at 6am this morning. But it’s not just the layout that has changed. Punters can look forward to supermarket-style queues, table service and ‘pub hosts’ when they order their first pints since lockdown began. A number of pubs and restaurants will also ask for your contact details to create a ‘guest register’ in case the NHS test and trace team need to contact you in the vent of an outbreak. People can get a hair cut at a salon or barbers from today too, but the experience again will be quite different.
Staff are being advised to keep small talk ‘to a minimum’ to protect both staff and customers, and will be kitted out in masks and visors. Discussions about cut, colour and treatments should be made via the mirror while standing behind the client and kept to a minimum. The Prime Minister has also urged the public not to ‘blow’ the progress the country has made in battling the pandemic, amid fears that the reopening of pubs and restaurants could spur a rise in cases. Those with coronavirus symptoms should remain at home. While gyms remain closed, the Tory leader said today they should be able to reopen within ‘a couple of weeks’. Speaking on LBC this morning, he added that he intends to get theatres open ‘as fast as we possibly can’.