What you need to know about changes to social distancing and pubs reopening

The Prime Minister has announced a series of changes to the lockdown in England, telling MPs the “long national hibernation” was coming to a close.

Here is how the alterations, due to come in on July 4, will impact people’s lives.

– Do we have to keep to being two metres apart?

The Government has changed its guidance, following a Downing Street review into the two-metre advice, to recommend that individuals not from the same household should remain “one metre-plus” away from each other to reduce the risk of transmission.

The “plus” element is about putting in mitigation, including wearing a mask, regularly washing hands or sitting side-by-side rather than face-to-face, if a two-metre distance cannot be kept to.

Coronavirus distance
A ‘Please stay 2 metres apart’ sign on Brighton beach – the Government has reduced the restriction to ‘one metre-plus’ (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The move should make it easier for the hospitality sector and other businesses to reopen.

Boris Johnson, speaking in the Commons, said: “Whilst the experts cannot give a precise assessment of how much the risk is reduced, they judge these mitigations would make ‘one metre-plus’ broadly equivalent to the risk at two metres if those mitigations are fully implemented.”

– What other big changes were announced? 

As well as reducing the social distancing requirement, Mr Johnson said two households from next month would be able to start meeting indoors, so long as the “one metre-plus” rule was kept to.

Coronavirus PM
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the easing of the lockdown measures in the Commons (PA/HoC)

The household you choose to meet up with does not have to be exclusive, unlike in the social bubbles scenario created recently to help ease loneliness.

It means a family could see one set of grandparents on one weekend and see the other on the following weekend, said the Prime Minister.

– Can we finally hug our relatives?

If you do not live in the same household, the answer to that is still no.

Two households meeting for dinner can sit at the same table but still must not touch and should attempt to uphold the “one metre-plus” rules, according to the guidance announced on Tuesday.

– Can we go anywhere else with another household?

It is a resounding “yes” on this front.

Mr Johnson told MPs that restaurants, pubs and “self-contained accommodation” including hotels, B&Bs and campsites can soon reopen, as long as Government guidelines on how to lower the risk of coronavirus transmission is followed.

This will see changes to how pubs operate and possible alterations to layouts.

Non-essential shops have already been given the green light to let customers back in again.

– So can we go on a trip or to the pub with friends in England?

As long as those friends are from only one other household, then you can take a “staycation” trip together.

Coronavirus hotels
Hotels will be able to reopen next month, said Boris Johnson (Liam McBurney/PA)

Any shared facilities should be cleaned regularly, is the guidance being given.

And with pubs back open, two households could go for a pint together.

– What will post-lockdown pubs and restaurants be like?

There will be no hanging out at the bar, first of all.

Ministers will be advising publicans to provide table service to reduce the amount of interaction on shared surfaces.

Restaurant and bar managers will also be asked to take the contact details of those visiting their premises so that, in the event of a local Covid-19 outbreak, the contact details can be handed to the NHS test and trace team to advise people to self-isolate.

Coronavirus table
Table service will become the new norm when pubs and restaurants reopen (Adam Smyth/Greene King)

While a trip to the pub is back on the cards, clinking glasses with a large group of friends inside is not.

While there is no limit on the size of the two households visiting the watering hole together, more people cannot join in the socialising in a bid to limit the chain of virus transmission, according to officials.

– What else can reopen from July 4?

The PM read out a lengthy list in the Commons of venues and attractions that can now benefit from the lockdown easing.

They include places of worship, cinemas, museums, art galleries, bingo halls, community centres, hair salons, work canteens, outdoor playgrounds and gyms, as well as indoor attractions at zoos and aquariums.

Places of worship will be able to hold services once again, with weddings back on but numbers capped at 30.

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Hairdressers will have to wear visors when they open again, the PM told MPs (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Theatres and concert halls will be allowed to open but will be banned from playing live performances.

Hairdressers and barbers can operate while using use face visors, Mr Johnson confirmed.

– And what will remain shut?

Venues where there is “close proximity” interaction will not be permitted to open their doors yet, the PM said.

That includes nightclubs, indoor gyms, soft-play areas, swimming pools, spas, bowling alleys and water parks.

Mr Johnson said ministers would set up individual taskforces to work with those health and entertainment sectors to ensure such businesses could “reopen as soon as possible”.

– Are there any changes to meeting up outside?

Outside restrictions remain largely the same, except that the two households now permitted to meet inside are welcome to do the same at the park, with no limit on the size of their gathering.

Parks Covid
Those meeting up outside and not from the same household will continue to be restricted to groups of six (Danny Lawson/PA)

Groups not from the same household meeting up outside continue to be restricted to a maximum of six.

– Is this the end of lockdown, then?

It is a significant reduction in restrictions and the new measures will allow people to socialise more than they have in months.

But the PM warned that local lockdowns, and even a clampdown affecting the whole country, could still be required if major Covid outbreaks occur.

Officials also pointed to the fact some businesses were still being asked to stay closed and social distancing remains in place as a sign that there was still much to overcome.

Mr Johnson told MPs: “We will not hesitate to apply the brakes and re-introduce restrictions even at national level – if required.”

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