UK retail and hospitality sectors gear up for reopening

Prime Minister Boris Johnson last night confirmed that from Monday 12th April, England will move to Step Two of its roadmap out of lockdown, when non-essential retail will open as planned – as will hairdressers, salons and barbers; and libraries and public buildings. Indoor leisure facilities such as gyms will also reopen, as will most outdoor attractions and settings including outdoor hospitality venues, zoos, theme parks and drive-in cinemas. Self-contained accommodation such as campsites and holiday lets, where indoor facilities are not shared with other households, may also reopen.

Hospitality venues will be allowed to serve people outdoors, although customers must order, eat and drink while seated. Wider social contact rules will apply.

The government has also published an update on the four reviews established in the roadmap to determine what measures may be necessary from summer onwards.

A COVID-status certification system will be developed over the coming months which could allow higher-risk settings to be opened up more safely and with more participants. Over the coming months, a system will be developed which will take into account three factors: vaccination, a recent negative test, or natural immunity (determined on the basis of a positive test taken in the previous six months).

Events pilots will take place from the middle of this month to trial the system. The Events Research Programme’s first phase of pilots includes the FA Cup Semi Final and Final at Wembley Stadium, the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield, and the specially curated Good Business Festival, which is being held at the Liverpool ACC on 28th April.

Welcoming the news, CBI director of policy, John Foster, said that knowing the roadmap was on track can help create the economic momentum the country needs as the second phase of reopening begins.

“The retail and outdoor hospitality sectors can now gear up with certainty and confidence for a safe start.

“COVID status certificates have a part to play in some of the more challenging parts of the economy, like large scale events. The government has listened to industry concerns and is seeking to deploy them in a targeted way. These first trials will be watched with great interest. Any introduction ought to come with rigorous guidance and enforcement to help firms navigate ethical, legal and practical implementation challenges.

“Restarting international travel is vital for all parts of the economy, including tourism. The new traffic light system is a simple, risk-based approach that business has been calling for. It should be implemented alongside straightforward border arrangements, advance testing where necessary, and high-quality communications about any future changes to a country’s status.”

“Taken together, this new package of measures – along with the success of the vaccine roll-out – gives the UK a real chance of leading the world in a safe and sustainable re-opening of the economy, hopefully paving the way for a strong recovery.”

UK’s roadmap out of lockdown: Next steps

Step 3

From 17th May at the earliest, limits may be eased for meeting friends and family, although gatherings of over 30 people will remain illegal. Indoors, the Rule of 6 or 2 households will apply.

Most businesses in all but the highest risk sectors will be able to reopen. In all sectors, COVID-Secure guidance will remain in place and businesses may not cater for groups bigger than the legal limits.

Entertainment venues such as cinemas and the rest of the accommodation sector, including hotels, will open; as will some larger performances and sporting events in indoor venues with a capacity of 1,000 people or half-full (whichever is a lower number), and in outdoor venues with a capacity of 4,000 people or half-full (whichever is a lower number). In the largest outdoor seated venues, where crowds can be spread out, up to 10,000 people will be able to attend (or a quarter-full, whichever is lower).

Step 4

From 21st June at the earliest, and assuming the success of each prior step, the government hopes to be in a position to remove all legal limits on social contact, as well as rules on social distancing and face coverings. It will be at this point that guidance for businesses on working from home will be announced. In the meantime, those that can work from home should continue to do so.

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