UK

Coronavirus: Businesses reopen as England lockdown eases further

Staff wearing personal protective equipment run through a game of roulette at The Rialto casino in central London Image copyright PA Media

Businesses such as bowling alleys, soft play centres and casinos can now reopen in England as lockdown rules ease.

More beauty treatments, small wedding receptions and live indoor performances can also resume.

The further lifting of restrictions comes as the government introduces bigger fines for failing to wear a mask in places where it is compulsory.

Meanwhile, thousands of holidaymakers have rushed to get back to the UK to beat French quarantine rules.

Stephen Burns, chief executive of Hollywood Bowl, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme his venues were reopening today at 50% capacity, with customers no longer sharing the ball return between bowling lanes.

Hand sanitiser and disposable gloves are provided, staff wear masks and are protected by screens, while customers are required to wear masks when they are not eating or drinking.

Mr Burns said he did not know how customers would react to the changes. "I suppose all you can go on is what you've seen elsewhere - I don't think it's putting people off shopping particularly," he said.

"We're all just trying to get used to what is now the new normal."

The easing of lockdown rules was postponed from 1 August due to concerns about a slight increase in the number of people testing positive for coronavirus in England.

Last week, figures from the Office for National Statistics showed this may be levelling off.

However, the latest government figures released on Friday showed the number of daily positive tests in the UK was the highest it has been since 14 June.

In the 24-hour period up to 09:00 BST on Friday, there were a further 1,441 confirmed cases, taking the total number to 316,367.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Soft play centres are among the venues able to reopen from 15 August

Under the latest changes:

  • Indoor theatre, music and performance venues will be able to reopen with socially distanced audiences
  • Wedding receptions in the form of a sit-down meal for up to 30 guests will be permitted
  • The piloting of a small number of sporting events to test the safe return of spectators will resume, commencing with the final of the World Snooker Championship at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre over the weekend
  • Casinos, bowling alleys, skating rinks and soft play centres will be allowed to reopen
  • "Close contact" beauty services such as facials, eyebrow threading, eyelash treatments, make up application and microblading will resume
  • Pilots will take place at conference venues ahead of the expected resumption of business events from 1 October at the earliest

The prime minister said that plans to open up more of the economy this weekend "will allow more people to return to work and the public to get back to more of the things they have missed".

But Boris Johnson reiterated a warning that the government "will not hesitate to put on the brakes if required, or to continue to implement local measures to help to control the spread of the virus".

In England, face coverings are mandatory in many indoor settings, including public transport, shops and museums, with some exemptions for children or on medical grounds.

Under current guidance, people who refuse to wear a face covering where it is required face a £100 fine, which can be reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days.

The new enforcement measures will see that penalty repeatedly doubled for subsequent offences, up to a maximum of £3,200.

The latest easing of restrictions will not apply in areas where local lockdown measures are in place, the government said.

Local lockdown rules vary from place to place, but since July measures have been introduced in Leicester, Preston, East Lancashire, parts of West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and Aberdeen.

The Department of Health said restrictions on household gatherings in parts of north west England, West Yorkshire, East Lancashire and Leicester will continue.

Devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have the power to set their own timings for the easing of restrictions.


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