The Government has announced a series of tough new enforcement measures targeting the most serious breaches of social distancing restrictions.
The announcement comes as a number of remaining aspects of England’s culture, sport, leisure and business sectors will be permitted to reopen from this weekend. Two weeks ago the Office of National Statistics (ONS) had expressed concerns about a slight increase in the number of people in England testing positive. The situation now appears to have levelled off.
The plan set out in the ‘roadmap to recovery’ which was paused for two weeks will resume from Saturday 15 August in England – except for specific areas where local restrictions are in place.
- Indoor theatres, music and performance venues will be able to reopen with socially distanced audiences under updated performing arts guidance published by the Government. This follows a successful series of pilots and marks stage 4 of the government’s 5-stage roadmap for the return of professional performing arts.
- Wedding receptions in the form of a sit-down meal in a COVID-secure location for up to 30 guests will now be permitted.
- The piloting of a small number of sporting events to test the safe return of spectators will resume from August 15 with a view to reopening competition venues for sports fans, with social distancing measures in place from 1 October. This will begin with the final of the World Snooker Championship at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre during 15-16 August, with a full pilot programme to follow.
- 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 – including front of the face treatments such as eyebrow threading, eyelash treatments and facials from August 15 under new guidance.
- A number of pilots will now take place at event venues across the country to help plan how best to restart indoor business events and implement social distancing practices. Business events and conferences will be permitted to resume from 1 October provided rates of infection remain at current levels.
Taking into account new evidence provided by SAGE and consultation with industry, the Government has also confirmed today that all staff offering close contact services, including hairdressers, should now wear a face mask (type 2 surgical), in addition to a clear visor that covers the face. This will help protect the customer and staff from respiratory droplets caused by sneezing, coughing, or speaking.
The guidance also applies to businesses that operate remotely, such as massage therapists working in people’s homes, and those learning in vocational training environments.
The Government will continue to review these measures announced today, which are based upon the very latest infection rates.
More detail on the new enforcement measures will be set out in the coming week.
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.”
Nightclubs, dance halls, and discotheques, as well as sexual entertainment venues and hostess bars, remain closed in law.