Boris Johnson has confirmed coronavirus restrictions in England will remain in place for another four weeks as he officially delayed plans for “Freedom Day” on June 21.
Stage four of the roadmap out of lockdown was due to come into force next week, but this date has now been pushed back until July 19.
It means nightclubs and other businesses won’t be able to welcome customers back just yet, in a blow for the already struggling entertainment industry.
MPs are still set to vote on the delay, and the proposed extension will be reviewed to see if restrictions can be eased sooner on July 5 – however, the PM also warned that the roadmap could be delayed further if cases continue to surge.
The delay means the rule of six will still apply to indoor gatherings while outdoor parties will be limited to 30 people.
Pubs and restaurants will also still be restricted to table service only, and capacity limits will remain in place, despite the Euro 2020 football championship underway.
Theatres and other big indoor venues will remain restricted to 50% capacity, or 1,000 people, as part of the delay plans.
But in better news, the current capacity of 30 people at weddings will be scrapped, but venues will still have to follow rules on social distancing, singing and dancing.
The PM blamed rising coronavirus infection rates for the roadmap being delayed – with more than 7,000 new cases per day being recorded, a rise of 49% in a week.
Mr Johnson said if June 21 went ahead, “there is a real possibility that the virus will outrun the vaccines and thousands more deaths would ensue that could otherwise have been avoided”.
Here we explain what businesses must stay shut for a little while longer now “Freedom Day” has been pushed back.
What businesses must stay shut?
The businesses still waiting to reopen are…
- Adult entertainment venues
- Larger events
Now the PM has proposed delaying the fourth and final stage of the roadmap, these places cannot reopen from next week as planned.
Nightclubs across the UK have been shut for more than 15 months due to the on-going lockdowns, while gigs and other large events haven’t been allowed to take place at full capacity.
Under current rules, which will remain in place for now, larger events are currently restricted on how many people they can host.
Indoor events such as gigs have a capacity limit of 1,000, or 50% – whichever is the smaller number – and outdoor events can welcome up 4,000 or 50% capacity.
Outdoor events which are seated, such as football matches, are capped at 10,000 or 25%.
The news of the proposed delay comes despite a trial of how nightclubs will work – with dancers not wearing masks and no social distancing rules – having taken place in Liverpool in April.
The huge event, which feature thousands of party-goers in the iconic Circus club, was part of the Events Research Programme launched by the government.
The roadmap out of lockdown only applies to businesses in England, as Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland set their own rules.
The Night Time Industries Association has said the delay to the roadmap is “devastating” for the entertainment industry.
Michael Kill, chief executive of NTIA, said: “This is a hugely devastating blow for the very industries that have been hardest hit by this pandemic; in a very real sense, the Prime Minister has ‘switched the lights off’ for an entire sector.
“Many businesses have not survived this pandemic and others are on a financial cliff-edge, unable to operate viably.
“Hundreds of thousands of jobs have already been lost, a huge pool of creative talent has been swept away, and we have been left to suffer extreme financial hardship.
“This delay will drive confidence in the sector to a new low, culminating in more of our workforce being forced to leave the industry.”
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