On July 4, England will see the biggest lifting of lockdown restrictions yet, with pubs, restaurants, hotels and other businesses opening to customers for the first time for months.
The Government has published new guidance that sets out how these businesses can operate, and it’s clear a lot will have to change. Here is a breakdown of how the rules will affect different sectors.
Pubs and restaurants
Pubs and other venues will be required to keep a list of their customers for 21 days, which can be requested by the NHS Test and Trace service to identify and contain localised outbreaks of Covid-19. Professional contact tracers can use these lists of customers to track down places where the virus could have been transmitted.
While some businesses, like nail bars, hairdressers and restaurants, may already have a record of their customers, pubs and bars are now encouraged to do the same. Squaring that guidance with data protection legislation could be difficult – and the Government says more instructions will be released soon to make sure any records of customers’ data are legally compliant.
When socialising at pubs and restaurants, drinkers and diners will still be subject to limits on social gatherings, which do not allow meetings of people from more than two households indoors, or more than six from any number of households outdoors. So big meetings of friends who do not live together will still be banned after July 4, and pubs will encourage punters to follow the rules.
Propping up the bar and chatting to the barman will be against the rules too, as drinkers will be asked to stay at their tables, with waiting staff coming to them and serving diners and drinkers instead. The guidance says one member of staff should serve each table, and waiters should collect glasses and take them back to the bar.
Restaurants and pubs have been encouraged to use ordering apps, where customers can place their food and drink orders from their table and have it brought to them. Cutlery should only be issued in restaurants when customers have ordered food, and salt and pepper shakers must be regularly disinfected to reduce transmission between customers.
Shouting in public spaces increases the risk of aerosol transmission of the virus, so all venues where customers might socialise are required to prevent people raising their voices as much as possible. The Government guidance says that means venues must refrain from “playing music or broadcasts that may encourage shouting, including if played at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult”. So rowdy behaviour during football matches is banned, as is any singing along to music.
Other close contact activities, like “communal dancing”, are also banned, and the Government suggests dancefloors are repurposed as seating areas to create more space for people to sit down. Live performances of any kind, including drama, comedy and music, are all prohibited for the foreseeable future.
Out on the streets, pubs and restaurants in built-up areas will also have to take steps to prevent queues outside on the street, and have been advised to organise one-way routes to local transport to stop bottlenecks on busy high streets.
Hotels with private rooms and en-suite bathrooms will be allowed to open from July 4, but additional rules will apply to any accommodation with shared facilities. If shared toilet and shower facilities are in the same room, guests are able to share use of the toilets but can only use the shower if it is assigned to one household or support bubble, or cleaned between uses. This also applies to shower blocks at campsites, meaning each shower can only be used once before it is cleaned again.
The Government suggests campsites could introduce “a system of staggered entry and booked timeslots”. Room service should be left at the door of hotel rooms and not brought inside by staff, the guidance says, while in hostels, shared kitchens, TV rooms and dormitories should stay closed.
As with pubs, hotels are expected to coordinate their opening times with other hotels and businesses in the area to manage the demand on public transport and the surrounding area. The guidance suggests “minimising lift usage from reception” to stop people from different households spending time in enclosed spaces. Keys must be thoroughly cleaned after each guest has checked out.
Hairdressers and beauty salons
“Close contact” industries include hairdressers, barber shops, beauty and nail bars, make-up salons, and tattoo and spray-tanning studios. Staff at all these businesses must follow rules on interacting with their customers at close quarters, including keeping haircut times and other treatment lengths “as short as possible” and using screens or barriers to separate clients from one another.
Hairdressers are advised to rethink treatments that require close contact for extended periods of time, such as braiding and hair extensions. They are also advised against services which require workers to be “in front of the face”, throwing doubt on whether customers will be able to request fringes. In-salon speakers will be silenced to avoid people talking loudly over the noise and magazines will cleared from waiting rooms.
Businesses must avoid overrunning or overlapping appointments and contact customers virtually to let them know when they are ready to be seen, the guidance says.
Offices and factories
All office workers should still work from home, unless it is essential they go into work in person. The guidance says it may be appropriate for people to go to work if their jobs are “critical for business and operational continuity, safe facility management, or regulatory requirements” and they cannot be done remotely.
Screens and barriers should be used to separate people who do venture into the office, and workers must follow social distancing, which includes in toilets, canteens and break rooms. Lifts in factories should be marked up to allow a small number of passengers to face away from each other, looking towards the walls, to prevent transmission. Instead of staff using an on-site canteen, workplaces should provide their workers with packed lunches.
Working in other people’s homes
The guidance sets out the rules for repair services, fitters, meter readers, plumbers and cleaners, and asks that all workers maintain social distancing in other people’s homes. Making a cup of tea for your plumber is discouraged, as workers should bring their own food and drink. Internal doors should be left open so workers do not have to touch door handles, and they should take any breaks outside where possible. On their way to jobs, teams who must travel together in the same vehicle should keep the windows open to maintain a good breeze and keep the risk of transmission down. Any tools that must be shared should be used by the smallest possible number of people.
Shops have been open for a while already, but businesses will be expected to continue social distancing measures, by marking out one-way systems on the floor and asking customers to stay apart in queues. The guidance also recommends that staff communicate with each other over radios, rather than in person, where possible. Ideally, people should shop alone to reduce congestion in shops.
Retailers have also been asked to provide alternatives to touch-based security devices, such as chip-and-pin machines, and encourage contactless payments.
The UK’s theme parks will be opening, but the Government’s guidance specifically prohibits people raising their voices and anything that might cause them to shout. That could mean any screaming on rollercoasters is banned, as there is an “additional risk of infection in environments where you or others are singing, chanting, shouting or conversing loudly”.
Most rollercoasters are outside, which makes it more difficult for the virus to spread, but thrill-seekers will still have to practice social distancing.
The Government’s new rules say that casinos should try to limit the spread of the virus by using “dropping off and collection points” for objects passed around in games, and put in place regular cleaning. The rules would apply to poker chips, dice and playing cards, but it is unclear how games could take place safely with cards being passed from player to player.
Things the public must not do
Scream on rollercoasters
Give cups of tea to workmen
Sing along to music in public
Go shopping in groups of friends
Gather in groups of more than six outside
Chat to the barman in the pub
Read a magazine in the hairdressers
Dance in public or in a bar
Eat in the canteen at work
Share pens, tools or work equipment
Things the public must now do
Open all internal doors when cleaners visit
Face the wall in lifts
Collect hotel room service orders from outside the door
Register with pubs and restaurants before entering
Order food and drink using an app
Book hair and beauty appointments online and do not arrive early
Bring a packed lunch to work
Pay with a contactless card where possible
Maintain at least 1m distance from others
Keep the windows open if driving with colleagues