How travel, work and going to the gym may change after lockdown

Safely easing lockdown restrictions will be a tough challenge for businesses as they seek to maintain social distancing measures.

Next week, firms will have a “road map” from the Government on how restrictions will be eased, the Prime Minister has promised.

So how are things likely to change for industries where the public are in close contact?

– Air travel


Heathrow Airport boss John Holland-Kaye told the PA news agency it would be “physically impossible” to maintain social distancing measures at airports and that there will need to be better health checks of passengers.

He said UK airports should follow countries in Asia which have introduced screening measures, temperature checks and improved hygiene procedures. Passengers may also be required to wear masks during flights.

Mr Holland Kaye added: “The constraint is not about how many people you can fit on a plane, it will be how many people you can get through an airport safely.”

Travellers could also be told to arrive up to four hours ahead of their departure time to allow for extra measures, such as being swabbed and tested for the virus before being able to go through security.

Independent aviation analysts have said planes would have to be fully disinfected after every flight, meaning ticket prices could increase.

Low-cost airline Wizz Air was to resume some flights from Luton airport on Friday, with passengers required to wear face masks.

Crew will also wear masks and will keep a distance between passengers during boarding.

– Rail travel

rail stock
rail stock

The Rail Delivery Group is coordinating the rail industry’s response to the pandemic, and has said services will continue to run on a reduced timetable and passengers will be given clear advice about how to stay two metres apart.

It says changes to travel will be made following the Government’s advice, and train companies will remind customers of the action they need to take while using their services.

Great Western Railway has said it is looking to increase services from mid-May, with further increases when the Government starts to ease the lockdown.

Elsewhere, the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union warned there was “zero chance” of increasing transport services soon, amid speculation of a rise in journeys on May 11 or May 18 when a new rail timetable is due.

Industry sources said last week no dates have yet been agreed or announced.

– Pubs and restaurants


Major takeaway chains such as KFC, Burger King and Pret A Manger started reopening a few branches this week.

They have introduced strict safety and social distancing measures including regular handwashing and sanitising every 30 minutes. There are also restrictions on the amount of customers allowed in a store at the same time.

Meanwhile, pubs are braced for large swathes of people eager to visit their locals when they reopen again.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “At this stage it is difficult to say when pubs are expected to reopen and what the future of the pub looks like. We are looking to the Government to provide us more detail on when pubs can go back to business and how they will be able to operate.

“Our members take the safety of their staff very seriously, when pubs reopen our members will be considering as a matter of the highest priority how to keep staff and customers safe while maintaining the pub experience.”

It has also been reported that pub landlords may be asked to ration alcohol after the coronavirus lockdown, with a two or three pint limit for customers.

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Hospitality and Tourism has also launched an urgent inquiry into how the sectors could reopen.

– Sport

Sport Coronavirus – Saturday 29th March
Sport Coronavirus – Saturday 29th March

Ongoing discussions have taken place about sporting events restarting following lockdown, with fixtures being played behind closed doors. It has been reported that Premier League matches could be played without spectators for a period of time.

Weekly meetings are being held involving senior medical directors of the major sports in a bid to return to action as soon as possible. The issue is also set to be raised when ministers review current measures.

Testing, social distancing, hygiene standards and strict limits on the numbers of people allowed in venues would all be debated.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told MPs that he had been having “productive talks” with governing bodies from across British sport.

– Workplaces


Businesses could be made to put up signs asking workers to stay two metres apart from one another and instruct staff to leave if they have symptoms of Covid-19, it has been reported.

Companies will also be told to close “communal spaces” such as canteens, if workers are unable to socially distance themselves, and to ensure there are hand-washing facilities, hand gel and PPE supplies readily available.

Property services provider CBRE has said British firms should look to Asia as a guide on how offices might approach reopening in the future.

It advises against a “full throttle” return to work, with social-distancing measures needing to be reduced gradually and in line with public health guidance.

– Theatres and cinemas


It is unclear how theatres and cinemas will begin reopening after the lockdown is lifted and firms will need to decide how to maintain social distancing in venues where hundreds of people are in close proximity.

Options have included keeping every other seat empty – which could have a financial impact on smaller venues – or checking the temperature of customers before they enter.

In the meantime, theatre productions and new release films have been streamed online.

– Gyms


Humphrey Cobbold, chief executive of PureGym, told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme the chain was working to upgrade the hygiene and sanitisation regime to ensure customers’ safety when facilities are allowed to reopen again.

He said: “The right approach is a considered and careful opening. We will probably, when permitted by government, start by opening half a dozen sites and then expand from there when we’re confident that we have a model that’s safe and secure for members for the future.”

Elsewhere, Virgin Active will inform customers when they will reopen clubs “once it is safe to do so based on government advice”.

Gym members could also be asked to perform frequent hand-washing during visits.

– Shopping

Coronavirus – Fri Apr 24, 2020
Coronavirus – Fri Apr 24, 2020

In the coming weeks, some non-essential businesses will be allowed to open, it is believed. This includes garden centres and car showrooms, provided social distancing can be maintained.

Lobby group the British Retail Consortium has guidelines on ensuring the safe reopening of non-essential firms.

Suggestions include limiting entry and exit points, using floor markings to outline social distancing and keeping changing rooms closed.

The guidance also suggests installing cleaning stations with hand sanitiser and disinfectant wipes at the front of stores.

Contactless payments would be encouraged and self-checkout stations cleaned regularly. Staff who serve customers are to be protected with screens, visors and gloves.

Other measures may include one-way systems through stores, a cap on how many people are allowed in at any given time and security guards at the door.

– Religious services

It is not yet clear how funeral, wedding and other church services will take place after lockdown ends.

Churches have speculated about limiting the number of attendees and stopping hymns to prevent spreading the virus.

Priests could also be told to keep two metres away while giving the blessing at weddings and a new system could be implemented for handing over rings.

Worshippers at mosques may also be asked to wear face masks and bring their own rugs to minimise the risk of infection.