Lockdown roadmap: Shops and pubs reopen as Boris Johnson urges public to ‘behave responsibly’

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Peter Stubley
·3 min read
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<p>Boris Johnson visits businesses in Truro, England, ahead of the relaxation of restrictions on 12 April</p> (Getty Images)

Boris Johnson visits businesses in Truro, England, ahead of the relaxation of restrictions on 12 April

(Getty Images)

Boris Johnson has urged the public to “behave responsibly” as shops and beer gardens reopen for the next stage of the government’s lockdown easing plan.

Hairdressers, nail salons, gyms, swimming pools, libraries and outdoor attractions such as zoos and theme parks will also welcome back customers in what the prime minister described as a “major step forward in our road map to freedom”.

Mr Johnson said: “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.

“I urge everyone to continue to behave responsibly and remember ‘hands, face, space and fresh air’ to suppress Covid as we push on with our vaccination programme.”

With around 40 per cent of adults are yet to receive a vaccine, health experts have also urged caution and warned that another surge in coronavirus cases is “inevitable” as restrictions in England are relaxed.

Professor Peter Horby, chairman of the Nervtag group which advises the government on the pandemic, said: “I think we can be joyful and enjoy the freedoms but we've still got to realise there's still a large number of people who've not been infected or vaccinated and so they will be at risk.”

Businesses across the country have made extensive preparations for the resumption of outdoor hospitality for the first time since the start of the third lockdown on 5 January.

However, an estimated 60 per cent of pubs, bars and other licensed premises do not have the space to reopen for outdoor service, according to the British Beer and Pub Association.

Damian Knight, who has invested £5,000 in preparing the Cornubia Inn he runs with his wife Miranda in Hayle, Cornwall, said the pandemic had changed the “traditional” pub model.

“If you open your doors with what you had before, you're going to get left behind,” he said.

“The traditional model is that you walked to the bar, you order your pint of beer, you hand over the cash, you walk down and you sit at your table. Covid’s changed that.

“People are expecting that table service and that little bit more, and I think it’s probably brought some pubs more into the modern era.”

Another pub opening its doors on Monday is The Carlton Tavern in Maida Vale, west London, which has been closed for the past six years. The building was illegally demolished by a property developer in 2015 and has since been rebuilt “brick by brick” after the council backed a campaign by local residents.

Meanwhile, shops will be able to extend their opening hours from 7am to 10pm to help customers avoid peak times and ease transport pressures.

The public has been urged to respect retail staff and fellow shoppers by complying with Covid-19 safety measures including social distancing, hand hygiene and face masks.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Retailers are excited about welcoming back their customers. They have spent hundreds of millions on making their premises Covid-secure; weeks preparing shops for reopening; and countless hours training staff on the latest safety measures.

“While we expect an initial surge in spending when shops first open, the real test will be how this holds up. We all have a duty to keep each other safe. Everyone should be considerate and respectful to their fellow shoppers and hard-working shop staff. This way we can all enjoy shopping and support our local communities.”

It is estimated that non-essential shops have lost £30bn in sales over the three national lockdowns.

The next stage of the lockdown easing plan on 17 May will see a return to indoor socialising under the “rule of six”, which allows gatherings of up to six people, or two households.

Additional reporting by agencies

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