The biggest changes since England plunged into lockdown three months ago will kick in this Saturday.
Pubs, hairdressers, hotels, campsites, restaurants, cinemas, museums and galleries can all open on July 4 in England.
There are also changes to gatherings and the two-metre rule, allowing you to be (a bit) closer to those you love.
Then on July 6, there’ll be big changes to quarantine for people wanting to go on holiday – plus, ‘shielding’ people can hug and kiss relatives for the first time.
But nightclubs, gyms, swimming pools, nail and tanning salons, tattoo studios and bowling alleys stay shut.
All the venues allowed to open will look different to before – with screens, social distancing and booking systems.
But so-called ‘Super Saturday’ – held appropriately on US ‘Independence Day’ – will still see far more venues open at once than many people thought would ever happen.
And Downing Street has refused to say whether it’s expecting the changes to push the crucial ‘R’ rate of infection above one.
That has triggered fears that debauched scenes in pubs and bars could trigger new outbreaks of the virus.
The government has already had to enforce a local lockdown in Leicester, where the below measures won’t happen – and schools and non-essential shops have shut.
Boris Johnson has urged people to stick to the rules and not turn into a “roiling, bacchanalian mass”.
So what can you do from July 4, even if you don’t want to? And what is still off the table?
Here’s a complete guide for England. Please note Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have separate rules.
Things you can do already
Non-essential shops, schools (a bit) and other premises like car showrooms and outdoor markets have already reopened in England.
People are now allowed to gather in groups of up to six outdoors in a park or garden, with social distancing.
The 2.2million most vulnerable people, who are ‘shielding’, have been allowed to go outside alone or with one other person (if they live alone) for walks.
And people can form a “support bubble”, joining two households together permanently to hug, kiss, stay the night and share childcare.
However, indoor gatherings of two or more people not in the same household or bubble are still banned.
And people are still banned from staying overnight away from where they live.
From July 4, much of those laws are being abolished in England and replaced with guidance.
Things you can do from July 4
Venues that CAN reopen in England from July 4
All these venues can reopen in England providing they can show they are ‘Covid-secure’:
- Hotels and B&Bs
- Holiday apartments or homes
- Cottages or bungalows
- Caravan parks
- Boarding houses
- Places of worship
- Community centres
- Restaurants, cafes and workplace canteens
- Bingo halls
- Theatres and concert halls – but on the basis it’s not a live performance. They can only screen past performances for example
- Museums and galleries
- Hair salons and barbers
- Outdoor playgrounds
- Outdoor gyms
- Theme parks
- Adventure parks and activities
- Amusement arcades
- Other indoor leisure centres and facilities – including indoor gaming, social clubs, model villages, and indoor attractions at aquariums and zoos.
You can visit friends and family indoors – but you can’t hug
People in England can have people round their house, including to stay overnight from July 4 – but they can’t hug.
For the first time since March, indoor gatherings will be allowed between two households who haven’t joined together in a “bubble”.
This applies to all indoor gatherings, be they in private homes or in places like pubs (more of that below).
When you are indoors, your household will be able to meet with one other household at a time.
There is no limit on the size of either of the households which can meet. And unlike with bubbles, ’exclusivity’ is not required. So you can have one friend round for a meal one weekend and another friend round another weekend.
But different households should continue to remain socially distant from one another when they meet. That means following the 2m or ‘1m plus’ (below) guidance, and also following other advice such as regular hand washing.
You can meet more people outdoors
There is a slight change to the rules for people meeting outdoors from July 4.
Currently up to six people from up to six households can meet in a park or garden, if they maintain social distancing.
This limit will continue, but it will change from a legal restriction to guidance, plus there will also now be another option.
Two households of any size – for example, two families of four – can now also meet outdoors, as long as they maintain social distancing.
So you can either meet five friends from different households, or an unlimited number from one household.
The two-metre rule is changing
The 2-metre social distancing rule in England is changing from July 4.
Where it’s not possible to stay 2 metres apart, people are instead advised to keep to a distance of “one metre plus”.
This means staying one metre apart – plus mitigations which reduce the risk of transmission.
On public transport, it means people stay one metre away but with a face covering.
In other spaces it will likely mean having screens between tables, making sure people face away from each other, putting in hand washing facilities, minimising amount of time spent with people from different households., and being outdoors where possible.
Government officials say mitigations at one metre have a “broadly equivalent impact” as staying two metres apart.
But the risk of catching the virus from someone is still much higher if you’re one metre away from them, compared to two metres away. If you can stay 2m apart, you should.
You can go to the pub – but only meet one other household inside
Pubs, bars, restaurants, cafes and workplace canteens can all reopen in England from July 4 – both indoor and outdoors.
But there’s a catch – if you’re indoors, you can only meet with people from one other household. And you should still maintain social distancing rules.
That means staying either two metres apart, or one metre apart with mitigation if you can’t manage two metres.
Loud music, dance floors, propping up the bar or standing in groups are all banned, and pubs will be encouraged to have table service where possible.
All venues are expected to keep a record of people who visit, to enable contact tracing.
But landlords aren’t expected to police which household customers belong to, or check ID of everyone coming in.
You can get a haircut – but not your nails
Hairdressers and barbers are allowed to reopen in England from July 4 with protective measures – including face visors for those cutting hair.
Millions of Brits can finally get a haircut after more than three months of having their locks chopped at home.
But they will be appointment-only, use disposable gowns and in many cases use a one-in, one-out system.
Nail salons, which involve people sitting face to face, will remain shut for the foreseeable.
And eyelash extensions are largely ruled out because of the amount of face-to-face contact.
You can go on staycation – but not to hostels
Hotels, B&Bs, holiday apartments or homes, cottages or bungalows, campsites, caravan parks and boarding houses can all reopen to paying guests in England from July 4.
Again, they must follow Covid-secure guidelines – but people will be able to stay overnight away from their home.
Despite concerns over shared facilities, campsites will be able to reopen in England from July 4. This includes showers and washing-up blocks.
But hostels with shared bedrooms cannot yet. This is different to Wales which is keeping both campsites and hostels shut.
You can get married – but not have a proper reception
Church services – including weddings – are allowed from July 4 if they’re done in a socially-distanced way.
But only up to 30 people can attend including the couple, officiants, guests, photographers, security and caterers.
And limits still apply on indoor gatherings, meaning there won’t really be a chance to have a reception.
Ceremonies should be concluded in the “shortest reasonable time” and hands should be washed “before and after” and the rings are exchanged.
Brides can be walked down the aisle – but not arm-in-arm, unless the escort lives in the same household.
Books, service sheets and prayer mats should be removed – with single-use alternatives provided as long as they are removed by the person attending the wedding.
You can go to church – but not sing
Places of worship reopen in England from July 4, as above.
But not full singing services, due to the risk of spreading the virus.
You can visit cinemas, galleries and museums
Saturday 4 July is the date cinemas, galleries and museums can reopen in England.
Guidance includes one-way systems, spaced queuing, increased ventilation, and pre-booked tickets.
A No10 source said: “We are only able to move forward this week because the vast majority of people have taken steps to control the virus.
“But the more we open up, the more important it is that everyone follows the social distancing guidelines.
“We will not hesitate to reverse these steps if it is necessary to stop the virus running out of control.”
Things you can do from July 6
Shielded people can meet groups of friends outside
Shielding will be eased for 2.2million vulnerable people in England (except in Leicester) from Monday July 6.
They can go out and meet up to five friends – and if they live alone, form a ‘bubble’ with another household.
From August 1, the advice to shield ends completely.
But Statutory Sick Pay and direct food parcels for the shielding will also end on August 1, prompting alarm.
There’s also anger at the failure to have a legal safeguard against people being forced back to work.
What about travel? Can I go on holiday?
From Saturday, the Foreign Office’s warning against all but essential international travel will be lifted for some countries.
And from 10 July, people returning to England from certain countries will not need to self-isolate.
The countries that England has exempted from the quarantine rule are here
At the time of publishing th UK government has not published the list of colour coded countries setting out the risk of travelling to certain countries.
Things you still can’t do from July 4
Venues that CAN’T reopen in England from July 4
These venues are still banned from reopening and have no confirmed date:
- Bowling alleys and skating rinks
- Indoor play areas including soft play
- Nail bars
- Beauty salons
- Swimming pools
- Tattoo and piercing studios
- Water parks
- Indoor fitness and dance studios
- Conference centres, other than for people who already work there.
You can’t go to the gym
Government sources said gyms remain shut because there is a “far greater risk of infection” due to people breathing harder and touching surfaces.
That outraged the gym industry, which demanded a date.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden later insisted: “Subject to public health, our aspiration is to reopen gyms & leisure facilities in mid-July.”
You can’t send your child to school
Only years R, 1 and 6 are allowed back to primary schools in England at the moment.
The government wants all children back in September – but was forced to drop plans to do it earlier.
You can’t see a live theatre show
Theatres and concert halls can reopen in England from July 4 – but only if it’s not a live performance. Instead theatres and concert halls can screen past performances.
Government sources said theatres have an issue with ensuring the actors themselves can move around the stage in a safe way.
You can’t play cricket, football or rugby, except with your own household
Recreation and sport will be allowed.
But people should only play “close-contact team sports” – like football and rugby – with other members of their household.
And indoor facilities including changing rooms and courts will remain closed.
Cricket is also off limits for now – with Boris Johnson saying the ball “is a natural vector of disease”.
You can’t go see a big gig or sports match
For now, mass gatherings where people rub up against each other in close proximity remain banned and there is no date for them to restart.
You can’t go back to the office or use public transport, unless it’s absolutely necessary
Rules on avoiding public transport unless it’s absolutely necessary remain – and you should carry on working from home if at all possible.
Boris Johnson said: “People have to work from home if they can, that remains the guidance.”
People must, by law, wear a face covering if they are on public transport.
DIY face coverings can be used, even scarves or thin cloth masks. British Transport Police can still fine those not wearing masks £80 on the spot.
You DEFINITELY can’t go to a rave
Police will be given a new power to break up “large and irresponsible” gatherings of more than 30 people in England.
Until July 4, the law bans you from gathering in groups of more than six outdoors, or two indoors (with some exemptions). Offenders can be fined £100 or ordered to disperse.
After July 4, that will be replaced with a simpler ban on gatherings of over 30 people in one place – though there will be an exemption for pubs and restaurants with a big indoor capacity.
However, the ban on gatherings of more than six people outdoors (or two households) remains in place. It’s just guidance, rather than enforceable by police.