Pubs, restaurants and hairdressers reopen as England edges out of lockdown

4 July 2020, 08:20

By Asher McShane

Businesses in England including pubs, hairdressers and cinemas were opening their doors today for the first time in months after a significant easing of the coronavirus lockdown.

A hairdresser in PPE at work
A hairdresser in PPE at work. Picture: PA

With special rules in place to keep staff and customers safe, pubs have been allowed to open from 6am this morning, and some hair salons and barbers were open from midnight last night.

The Prime Minister has urged people to behave in accordance with government guidelines, and health secretary Matt Hancock has warned drinkers at pubs “you could end up behind bars if you break the law.”

Mr Hancock said people can “by all means go to the bar” today but they had to be sensible, adding: “You could end up behind bars if you break the law.”

He also said he would not "shirk" from shutting pubs and restaurants again, and imposing local lockdowns if needed.

He said: "I'm no killjoy, but the virus can still kill. I don't want to see bars and pubs have to close again. I love going to the pub and enjoy a pint or two."

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In salons, perspex screens have been erected, customers have to abide by one-way systems, staff wear PPE and customers need to wear face masks, and will have their temperatures checked. Customers in barbers will no longer be able to walk in for a haircut, instead bookings are needed.

Sandra Jacobs was among the first people through the door at Tusk Hair in Camden on Friday night when the north London business opened its doors at midnight.

There were masks, aprons and faceshields aplenty at the salon, but Ms Jacobs described the trip as "such a relief, I can't tell you".

She added: "My hair was everywhere. I'd been wearing hats to hide it."

In Leicester, England’s first local lockdown site, gatherings of more than six people, overnight stays, and the opening of hotels, pubs and non-essential shops were banned for an extra two weeks to halt a rise in new infections.

New legislation for the city comes into force on Saturday, with those who repeatedly flout the rules risking a £3,200 fine for six or more breaches.

Leicestershire Police said earlier that it will have more officers on duty than a typical New Year’s Eve to enforce the rules, while the city's hospitals are also bracing for a busy weekend.

British Transport Police officers have also been carrying out spot checks at Leicester rail station to stop people travelling within, to or from the city for non-essential reasons.

Police will be able to hand out fines beginning at £100 and rising on a sliding scale for repeat offenders, similar to the 18,000 penalties issued in England and Wales before lockdown restrictions were eased nationally.

Leicestershire Police said: "We will be directing people to follow the regulations and encouraging to them to follow the guidelines."

"We want people to stay at home in the protected area and if you are outside of this to be responsible and socialise safely."

The rules are to be reviewed every two weeks, with the first review due on 18 July.

On Friday, chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said the pandemic "is a long way from gone" as he urged the public to follow social-distancing rules as guidance is eased.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, also warned of the danger of the "superspreading" of Covid-19 occurring in pubs.

At a Downing Street press conference, Prof Whitty said: "None of us believe, and I'm sure nobody watching this believes, this is a risk-free next step. It is absolutely not, that is why we have to be really serious about it.

"There's no doubt these are environments whose principal job it is to bring people together, that's a great thing to do socially but it's also a great thing from the virus's point of view.

"Therefore, we do have to have a really clear and really disciplined approach to try and maintain social distancing whilst also enjoying pubs."