Johnson announces further lockdown easing measures

A number of remaining aspects of England’s culture, sport, leisure and business sectors will be permitted to reopen from 15 August as the easing of lockdown continues.

The plan set out in the ‘roadmap to recovery’, which was paused for two weeks after the INS expressed concerns about an increase in the number of people in England testing positive for coronavirus, will now resume, except for specific areas where local restrictions are in place.

This means that: indoor theatres, music and performance venues will be able to reopen with socially distanced audiences; indoor play and indoor soft play, bowling alleys, skating rinks and casinos will be permitted to reopen; beauty salons, tattoo studios, spas and barbers across England will be able to offer all close contact services; and wedding receptions in the form of a sit-down meal for up to 30 guests will now be permitted.

The government will also be piloting of a small number of sporting events to test the safe return of spectators from 15 August, with a view to reopening competition venues for sports fans, with social distancing measures in place from 1 October.

The government has also announced a series of tough new enforcement measures targeting the most serious breaches of social distancing restrictions. Fines for repeatedly not wearing face coverings where mandated will be significantly increased in the coming weeks, and on the spot fines for hosting or facilitating illegal gatherings of more than 30 people will be introduced. It is likely that fines will double to a maximum of £3,200 for those who repeatedly flout face covering rules.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Most people in this country are following the rules and doing their bit to control the virus, but we must remain focused and we cannot be complacent. That is why we are strengthening the enforcement powers available to use against those who repeatedly flout the rules.

“At every stage I have said our plan to reopen society and the economy is conditional and that it relies on continued progress against the virus. Today, we are able to announce some further changes which will allow more people to return to work and the public to get back to more of the things they have missed. However, as I have always said, we will not hesitate to put on the brakes if required, or to continue to implement local measures to help to control the spread of the virus.”