Coronavirus: Lockdown easing ‘on track’ – and you may have to register before going to the pub | Politics News
The health secretary has told Sky News the government is “on track” to ease the coronavirus lockdown further from 4 July.
Speaking to Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Matt Hancock said this could include pubs and restaurants reopening – as well as people being able to get haircuts again.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to make a formal announcement next week.
“We’re on plan, we will of course be setting out more details of that plan and in the plan it states that on around July 4 we will take further measures if it’s safe to do so,” the health secretary said.
“We talk about hospitality and outdoor hospitality in that plan but there are a whole series of other services especially where you need to be physically close to someone to carry it out like a haircut – a lot of the country does need a haircut.”
Asked if that will mean barbers and hairdressers will be able to reopen, Mr Hancock replied: “I’m not going to rule that out. We’ll set out the details as soon as we can.
“We’re clearly on track for that plan because of the number of cases coming down and the plan does refer to hospitality and some of the other things that are closed that so many people want to see open.”
On pubs, the health secretary said ministers were looking at a number of measures to ensure it is “safe” for them to reopen.
This includes having to register before going for a pint.
“That’s the sort of thing we’re looking at for how do you make it safe to open things,” Mr Hancock told Ridge.
“And things like wearing a face mask which reduces the transmission clearly, about how the seating is arranged because face-to-face is much more dangerous than back-to-back and there’s more transmission than side-to-side.
“And also the sorts of things you can put in place to strengthen test and trace because the whole approach is to move as much as safely possible from a national lockdown towards targeted local action when we see an outbreak.”
Pressed again for a definitive answer on whether people will have to register before going to the pub, he replied: “I wouldn’t rule that out, it isn’t a decision we’ve taken yet, but there are other countries in the world that take that approach.”
As ministers consider a further easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions, there has been a renewed focus on the future of the two-metre social distancing restriction.
Boris Johnson has commissioned an official review into the measure, with the prime minister hinting in recent days that it could be reduced.
And Chancellor Rishi Sunak said on Saturday that the review “will make an enormous difference” to businesses, heightening expectations of a reduction
The World Health Organisation recommends a distance of “at least” one metre, with many countries around the world enforcing a rule of less than two metres.
A reduction to one metre is seen as key for allowing schools to take in more pupils and businesses to welcome more customers, including pubs, restaurants and hotels.
Chef Yotam Ottolenghi told Ridge that cutting the two metre rule is “really vital”.
He said that restaurants would not be “making money with a one-metre rule, but at least we’re going to survive”.
Ahead of a possible reopening, guidance is understood to have been drawn up by the hospitality sector and the government.
It is understood that pub patrons will be encouraged to order drinks using phone apps rather than at the bar, while legislation already in place is said to include the powers for patrols in establishments.
According to The Times the guidance also says:
- There will be limits on the number of people allowed into pubs, while tables will spaced out and glasses collected from tables
- Bar tops and door handles will be cleaned at least hourly
- Restaurants will have to put strict limits on the number of diners and be encouraged to stagger bookings
- Room service in hotels will be left outside guests’ doors – and if they fall ill the customer will be asked to self-isolate in their room, which would be cordoned off for 72 hours after they have recovered
- Gyms and swimming pools will be required to use clickers to count numbers going in, with booking systems utilised to prevent overcrowding.