London embraces return of hairdressers, pub pints and high street shopping

Couple having Dinner
Eager customers wasted no time in making the most of the easing of coronavirus restrictions on Monday as England took the next significant step on its journey out of a third national lockdown.Losing lengthy lockdown locks and reinvigorating beauty treatments were the priority for some as relaxed rules meant salons and hairdressers were able to treat customers for the first time since January 6.
Early-morning queues formed outside clothing stores on Oxford Street, with thousands of non-essential retail premises now eligible to resume trading.Punters desperate for a freshly-poured pint can quench their thirst in beer gardens, and diners can eat al fresco on restaurant terraces as outdoor hospitality venues reopen.Indoor gyms, swimming pools, libraries and zoos are also welcoming back visitors.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged the nation to “behave responsibly” as life took another step back towards normality.

What can people in England do now?

From Monday, shops, hairdressers, nail salons, libraries and outdoor hospitality venues such as beer gardens will be allowed to reopen.

Most outdoor attractions, such as zoos and theme parks, can reopen, although wider social-distancing rules will still apply to prevent indoor mixing between different households.

Indoor leisure facilities such as gyms and swimming pools will also be opened, but for use by people on their own or in household groups.

Funerals can continue with up to 30 people, and the numbers able to attend weddings, receptions and commemorative events such as wakes will rise from six to 15.

It follows from a previous round of easing on March 29 allowing six people from any number of households or a group of any size from up to two households to gather in parks and gardens.

Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts reopened, with organised adult and children’s sport – including grassroots football – able to return.

People are still being asked to work from home where possible, and overseas travel remains banned.

– What happens next in England?

From no earlier than May 17, most social contact rules outside will be lifted – although gatherings of more than 30 will remain illegal.

Indoors, the rule of six or two households will apply – although the Government has said it will keep under review whether it is safe to increase this.

Indoor hospitality, entertainment venues such as cinemas and soft play areas, the rest of the accommodation sector, and indoor adult group sports and exercise classes will also reopen.

Limited crowds will also be allowed at sporting events.

All remaining restrictions on social contact could be lifted from June 21, allowing for larger events to go ahead and nightclubs to reopen.

The Government has said there will be a minimum of five weeks between each set of restrictions easing, to give it time to assess the impact on public health.

Lockdown easing will depend on the vaccine rollout continuing smoothly and evidence the vaccine is reducing hospital admissions and deaths.

It also depends on there being no evidence a surge in infection rates could potentially overwhelm the NHS, and the level of risk not being fundamentally changed by new variants of concern.

Anthony Baxter 12th April 2021

TagNews, LocationWestminster