England moves onto stage two of its roadmap out of lockdown with the reopening of non-essential shops, grooming and hospitality today
As of 12 April 2021, England allows non-essential shops, gyms, zoos, holiday campsites, personal care services and hairdressers to reopen, close contact work such as driving lessons can restart, beer gardens and outdoor hospitality of all kinds are allowed to open and travel in and out of Wales from the rest of the UK is allowed.
Across the country businesses celebrated the reopening with some hospitality venues opening at midnight along with the start of the changed rules. The retail sector also saw large queues for the reopening of shops this morning and many hairdressers and other personal grooming businesses are booked solidly for the next few weeks. Retail analysist group Springboard revealed that footfall, the number of people in shops, shopping centres and retail parks, to 10am had jumped 200%. In central London, footfall is up 230% this morning compared to last week.
Even with local councils and the City of London Corporation continuing to issue pavement licenses free of charge for suitable hospitality premises, not all businesses have been able to reopen today. The British Beer and Pub Association estimated that only 40% of pubs in England have the space to reopen for outdoor service and only two in five hospitality venues have outdoor space to use. According to the roadmap, it will not be possible for the hospitality to open indoor dining and drinking before 17 May.
The rule changes in England marks the third easing since the country's third national lockdown began on 6 January. Although similarly following a roadmap, the easing of restrictions in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are different to England with many restrictions easing towards the end of April.
The further easing of lockdown rules was confirmed on 5 April 2021 by the Prime Minister in an address to the nation. In his statement Boris Johnson said that the rule relaxations are ‘a major step forward in our roadmap to freedom.’ Johnson also added: ‘I'm sure it will be a huge relief for those business owners who have been closed for so long, and for everyone else it's a chance to get back to doing some of the things we love and have missed.’
His address also covered the fragility of reopening, urging the British public to remain vigilant and continue to follow social distancing guidelines saying: ‘I urge everyone to continue to behave responsibly and remember 'hands, face, space and fresh air' to suppress Covid-19 as we push on with our vaccination programme.’
There is a gap of at least five weeks between each step on the government's roadmap out of lockdown, to allow the impact of changes on infection rates and hospital admissions to be assessed. The next significant date will be 17 May, where Stage three of the roadmap will be reviewed.