Green light for reopening of businesses, but government plays it Very safe

Pubs opening

The government has given the green light to shops, gyms, hairdressers, barbers, beauty and nail salons, and pubs with outdoor areas opening from 12 April, almost three months after bolting their doors.

But the sting in the tail of the government’s announcement was that there are no changed to social contact rules and many restrictions are still in place.

The government’s latest assessment was based on four tests:

  • The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully
  • Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
  • Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
  • Our assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.

We can go on holiday too, in the UK only – overnight stays away from home in England will be permitted and self-contained accommodation can also reopen, though must only be used by members of the same household or support bubble.

Public buildings such as libraries and community centres will also reopen.

The majority of outdoor settings and attractions can also reopen, including outdoor hospitality, zoos, theme parks, drive-in cinemas and drive-in performances events.

Hospitality venues will be able to open for outdoor service, with no requirement for a substantial meal to be served alongside alcohol, and no curfew. The requirement to eat and drink while seated will remain.

People should continue to work from home where they can, and minimise domestic travel where they can, said the government. No globetrotting tourism yet.

Funerals can continue with up to 30 attendees. Weddings, outdoor receptions, and commemorative events including wakes will be able to take place with up to 15 attendees (in premises that are permitted to open).

The government also announced a small number of pilot events can take place to pave way for larger audiences at sport, theatre and gigs this summer.

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, said the government. 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).