Prime Minister Boris Johnson has today (Tuesday 23 June) set out further changes to lockdown measures in England to enable people to see more of their friends and family, help businesses get back on their feet and get people back in their jobs.
From Saturday 4th July, the Prime Minister has announced that pubs, restaurants and hairdressers will be able to reopen, providing they adhere to COVID Secure guidelines.
From the same date, he has set out that two households will be able to meet up in any setting with social distancing measures, and that people can now enjoy staycations in England with the reopening of accommodation sites.
In order to begin restoring the arts and cultural sector, some leisure facilities and tourist attractions may also reopen, if they can do so safely – this includes outdoor gyms and playgrounds, cinemas, museums, galleries, theme parks and arcades, as well as libraries, social clubs, places of worship and community centres.
Following a review, the Prime Minister has also set out that where it is not possible to stay two metres apart, guidance will allow people to keep a social distance of ‘one metre plus’. This means staying one metre apart, plus mitigations which reduce the risk of transmission.
As we begin to reopen the economy, it’s important that we do not increase the risk of transmission which is why “close proximity” venues such as nightclubs, soft-play areas, indoor gyms, swimming pools, water parks, bowling alleys and spas will need to remain closed for now. The Government is continuing to work with these sectors to establish taskforces to help them to become COVID Secure and reopen as soon as possible.
While the infection rate continues to fall, the Prime Minister has been clear that the public must continue to follow social distancing guidelines to keep coronavirus under control. The Government will keep all measures under constant review and will not hesitate to apply the handbrake, or reverse measures, should the virus begin to run out of control.
These changes apply in England only.
Cumbria Tourism, the county’s Destination Management Organisation, has welcomed today’s Government announcements, which it says will bring incredible relief for hundreds of Cumbria’s businesses and thousands of employees.
Jim Walker, Chair of the organisation which represents approximately 2,500 member businesses, said: “By 4 July the county’s hospitality sector will have been closed for three and a half months, during the busiest part of the year, with close to £2bn lost from the county’s economy and hundreds of jobs lost with thousands more at risk. Our evidence to government was clear that the difference between 2m and 1m was the difference between operating viably and not and today’s relaxation announcement will make a significant difference to business viability and save local jobs. Cumbria Tourism has stood firm alongside the health professionals and police when this was required to protect the health of local residents and we are now keen for a safe and phased recovery towards some type of normality to begin.”
Gill Haigh, Managing Director added: “I am particularly proud of the sector’s response throughout this pandemic, locking down sometimes large and complex businesses overnight, safeguarding communities, adapting business models where possible to support jobs and provide much needed services to the community, supplying accommodation for Covid-19 key workers, and rigorous planning to develop innovative approaches and collaborating with one another to ensure staff and customer safety combined with enjoyable and memorable experiences. The issuing of the government guidance today, at long last, will allow them to make the final preparations before reopening a week on Saturday.
“Now, at long, long last, we look forward to warmly welcoming back our visitors and working with them to ensure they take additional measures themselves, alongside businesses, to be guaranteed safe and enjoyable experiences. This will include planning ahead, booking in advance, thinking about where to visit and when, paying by contactless, washing hands regularly, keeping to the social distancing guidelines. We also welcome the new national visitor reassurance accreditation scheme which Cumbria Tourism has championed and as Destination Management Organisation for the county, have been tasked by Visit England, to help roll out throughout Cumbria.
“Inevitably we don’t expect is a sudden return to normal, it will be phased. Our visitor research tells us that only about half feel confident to return immediately. That’s why Cumbria Tourism’s Recovery Campaign – ‘The Perfect Place’ – encourages us all to do what we can to support our tourism sector, to think about planning our holidays at home this year, when the time is right; to invite our friends and families to reconnect, to recharge and to rediscover what’s on our doorstep; to reinvigorate by trying new experiences and explore more; as well as to continue our lockdown passion for buying local food, drink and crafts.
“We are very lucky to have a large rural location with many off the beaten track areas which makes social distancing easier. We are the perfect place to recharge, reconnect, reflect and rediscover. And with less than half of the main season left, and with stringent safety measures in place, it is important now that we get behind our businesses, support local jobs, and back the industry that underpins many of our communities and ways of life too.”
Responding to the announcement from the Prime Minister about relaxing the lockdown, South Lakes MP Tim Farron said: “It’s good that the Government have finally published the guidance to help our local hospitality and tourism businesses reopen in a way that is safe for both employees and customers.
“While today’s news is welcome and will give a much-needed boost for hospitality businesses here in the Lakes and Dales, many simply won’t be able to survive beyond October, when the Government’s support schemes run out, especially with social distancing restrictions still in place.
“That’s why we need a long-term package of support to help the sector until it’s able to stand on its own two feet next spring.
“I would encourage everyone to sign and share our joint petition with Cumbria Tourism so we can protect local businesses and jobs.”