Coronavirus: Quiet music and orders via app for venues reopening

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image captionScreens between customers are among the safety measures suggested for hairdressers

Music should be kept quiet and customers encouraged to order through apps, under updated guidance for businesses reopening from 4 July.

Pubs, restaurants, cinemas and hairdressers are among the venues which will be allowed to reopen in England.

There is also advice to reconfigure seating, minimise self-service, cancel live acts and stagger arrivals.

It comes after Boris Johnson announced sweeping changes to England's lockdown, including a relaxing of the 2m rule.

Meanwhile, the latest figures show a further 154 people have died with coronavirus in the UK, across all settings, taking the total to 43,081.

The updated government guidance includes some general advice for all businesses as well as guidance for specific sectors.

It says businesses should carry out a Covid-19 risk assessment to ensure the safety of their workplace, which should be shared on their website, and also develop cleaning and hygiene procedures.

Guidance for close contact services such as hairdressers says employees should wear a visor where it is not possible to maintain distance and customers could also be separated from each other by screens.

Places like pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers are asked to keep a temporary record of customers and visitors for 21 days, to support the test and trace system.

Pubs and restaurants should keep music at a low volume to avoid people needing to shout, which increases the risk of transmission from tiny droplets in the air, known as aerosols.

Customers will be encouraged to book in advance and order food and drink direct to their tables through a smartphone app.

image copyrightPA Media
image captionPubs are among the venues which will be allowed to open in England from 4 July

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said he expected people to continue to use "common sense" and follow government guidelines.

But he said there was a "legal duty" for businesses to keep their employees safe and the Health and Safety Executive could take action if not.

Frances O'Grady, general secretary of trade union body the TUC, said the more the government relaxes lockdown "the tougher it needs to get on health and safety at work".

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme it should be a legal requirement for employers to publish risk assessments on their website, adding too many companies were "not doing the right thing".

Adam Regan, who runs the Hare and Hounds pub in Birmingham, said the guidelines were "very, very difficult to navigate safely".

He told BBC Radio 5 Live extra staff would be needed to monitor entrances and serve tables, while some customers might not be comfortable giving their contact details on arrival.

Mr Regan said another concern was that people would become more relaxed and less conscious of social distancing after drinking alcohol.

Mike Cherry, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said while there was "a lot to welcome" in the guidance, "ideally, small firms would have been given weeks rather than days to prepare for their reopenings".

He said the new measures would also bring extra costs for companies and called for government support to help businesses which could not afford to reconfigure their premises.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said that while he supported the easing of the lockdown, a more effective test and trace system was needed for the plan to work safely.

media captionBoris Johnson is cheered as he announces English pubs can reopen from 4 July

In the biggest easing of lockdown yet, Mr Johnson also said the 2m social-distancing rule would be replaced with a "one-metre plus" rule in England.

This means people should stay at least 2m (6ft) apart where possible, but otherwise should remain at least 1m apart while taking steps to reduce the risk of transmission, such as wearing face coverings.

The 2m rule will remain in Scotland and Wales. In Northern Ireland, ministers have said social distancing of 1m is "safe and appropriate" for children at school.

Announcing the changes on Tuesday, Mr Johnson said the following venues would be able to reopen from 4 July:

  • Pubs, bars and restaurants but only with a table service indoors, and owners will be asked to keep contact details of customers to help with contact tracing
  • Hotels, holiday apartments, campsites and caravan parks but shared facilities must be cleaned properly
  • Theatres and music halls but they will not be allowed to hold live performances
  • In other changes weddings will be allowed to have 30 attendees, and places of worship will be allowed to hold services but singing will be banned
  • Hair salons and barbers will be able to reopen but must have protective measures, such as visors, in place
  • Libraries, community centres and bingo halls
  • Cinemas, museums and galleries
  • Funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks, amusement arcades, outdoor skating rinks and model villages
  • Indoor attractions where animals are exhibited, such as at zoos, aquariums, farms, safari parks and wildlife centres

Some other venues will remain closed by law, including nightclubs, casinos, indoor play areas, nail bars and beauty salons, swimming pools and indoor gyms.

It comes as struggling retailers must pay their quarterly rent to landlords on Wednesday.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said in a tweet that the government's "aspiration" was to reopen gyms and leisure facilities in England in mid-July.

However, Mark Sesnan, chief executive of Greenwich Leisure, which runs leisure centres for councils across the country, said he was "shocked and disappointed" that such sites would not be allowed to reopen on 4 July.

"We had been led to believe that we would be," he told the BBC, adding that the company had "incurred quite a lot of expense" getting facilities ready.

He said most swimming pools and sports halls were "very large spaces", making social distancing easier. Scientists also say chlorinated water should kill the virus.

The Betting and Gaming Council said it was "inconsistent and frankly nonsensical" that casinos were not able to reopen along with other parts of the hospitality industry.

"Casinos have done everything that they were asked to do by the government and they have pulled out all the stops to ensure they are able to open their doors safely for both staff and customers from 4 July," chief executive Michael Dugher said.

Mr Sharma said he understood the "frustration" of businesses that were not yet allowed to reopen but "the proximity that you have to someone in some of these closer settings" posed "a greater risk".

In Scotland, outdoor hospitality areas such as beer gardens will be able to open on 6 July, while shopping centres, holiday accommodation, hairdressers, pubs and restaurants will be able to reopen on 15 July.

There is not yet a date for when pubs and restaurants might reopen in Wales, although the government has said discussions on a potential phased reopening will be held in July.

In Northern Ireland, hotels, pubs and restaurants can reopen from 3 July.

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