Pubs, transport and shops – how the UK’s lockdown measures could be eased
Stay-at-home orders could be relaxed and some people may be allowed to return to work under plans to ease the UK’s lockdown from next week.
Boris Johnson will reveal on Sunday the Government’s “road map” on how it will lift restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.
While the Government has stressed it wants all parts of the UK to move together in easing the measures, decisions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be for leaders there.
Here are some of the measures that could be made:
– Exercise and the outdoors
According to some reports, unlimited outdoor exercise will be allowed from Monday, however gyms and playgrounds are expected to remain closed.
Public Health England has signalled the “stay home” message could be abandoned and reports suggest people using benches, having picnics or sunbathing will no longer be asked to move on, provided they keep two metres apart.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock suggested on Wednesday that outdoor “pavement cafes” could be put in place over the summer.
– Public transport
Bus and train timetables are likely to be adjusted and increased to help the system cope with an increase in passengers.
An economic think tank also suggested that increasing peak-time ticket prices on London’s Tube and buses could help manage passenger numbers.
There could also be further guidance on wearing masks while travelling after a survey by rail and road watchdog Transport Focus found 51% of people would not be happy using trains and buses unless passengers were required to wear them.
– The workplace
Employees in non-essential industries who have been operating from home may be allowed to return to work.
However, businesses wanting employees to return to the office could be made to stagger shifts, and ensure there are hand-washing facilities, hand gel and PPE supplies readily available.
Office spaces may have to be rearranged and have floor markings added to ensure workers can keep two metres away from each other, according to the Telegraph.
– Pubs and restaurants
The reopening of pubs and bars is unlikely to happen any time soon, with some reports claiming they will not return until August and September.
When they do, customers could have to order from their tables – rather than at the bar – to limit unnecessary interaction, according to British Beer and Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin.
However, fast food franchises including McDonalds and KFC have already announced they will begin opening locations for delivery services, with more sites likely to reopen in the coming weeks.
It has also been suggested that cafes could soon reopen if they can provide outdoor seating.
The use of virtual teaching is likely to continue, and uncertainty remains about whether school and university students will begin the new academic year in September in person or remotely.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has said schools in England will reopen in a “phased manner” after the lockdown, but is yet to provide a date.
In Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford said schools could be allowed to reopen from the start of June in a phased approach.
When children do return, class sizes could be limited as well as new, alternative classroom layouts and staggered break times to keep pupils and teachers safe.
Some reports suggest that non-essential shops such as garden centres could reopen from Monday, but there is yet to be any official announcement.
Those that do are likely to continue with measures such as floor markings to keep customers apart, while also using screens, visors and gloves to safeguard staff members.
Last month, the British Retail Consortium published guidance for measures that retail stores could introduce to help with the transition once restrictions are lifted.
Recommended measures include limiting entry and exit points, using floor markings to outline social distancing and keeping changing rooms closed.
– Religious gatherings
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said it is still too early to reopen religious services, with no date for when that could happen.
He told a Downing Street briefing on Wednesday: “We are in conversation with faith leaders across the country to consider how, when the time is right, they will be able to recommence services in churches and mosques and synagogues across the country. But that moment is not now.”
– International travel
It is unlikely international travel will get back to normal any time soon, but airports are looking at precautions to ensure passengers can be kept safe when more widespread travel does resume.
Passengers travelling through Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands airports are being ordered to cover their faces and wear gloves.
Heathrow Airport has said it will introduce temperature screening, which will initially be used to monitor arriving passengers in immigration halls but could also be deployed in areas for departures, connections and airport staff searches.