More beauty treatments, small wedding receptions and live indoor performances may resume in England from Saturday, as lockdown rules are relaxed.
Bowling lanes, casinos and soft play centers will also be able to reopen, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.
It comes as the government introduces tough new measures targeting violations of social distancing restrictions.
Fines for refusing to wear a mask could reach a maximum of £ 3,200 and illegal rave organizers face a penalty of £ 10,000.
“Most of the people in this country are following the rules and doing their part to control the virus, but we have to stay focused and we cannot be complacent,” Mr Johnson said.
“This is why we are strengthening the enforcement powers available against those who repeatedly flout the rules. ”
The changes coincide with new quarantine measures for people arriving in the UK from several countries, including France and the Netherlands, meaning travelers must self-isolate for 14 days from Saturday.
The prime minister said plans to further open the economy over the weekend “will allow more people to return to work and the public to return to more things they missed.”
But Mr Johnson reiterated a warning that the government “will not hesitate to put the brakes on if necessary, or continue to implement local measures to help control the spread of the virus”.
Under the changes effective August 15:
- Theater, music and performance halls will be able to reopen with a socially distant audience
- Wedding receptions in the form of sit-down meals for a maximum of 30 people will be permitted
- Piloting a small number of sporting events to test spectators’ safe return will resume, starting with the World Snooker Championship final at Sheffield’s Crucible Theater this weekend.
- Casinos, bowling alleys, ice rinks and soft play centers will be allowed to reopen
- ‘Close contact’ beauty services such as facials, eyebrow trimming, eyelash care, makeup application and microblading will resume
- The pilots will take place in the conference venues before the scheduled resumption of commercial events from October 1 at the earliest
The new guidance will not apply in areas where local lockdown measures are in place, the government said.
Lockdown restrictions were introduced last week in Preston and kept in place in 18 other areas to control outbreaks.
Decentralized administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have the power to set their own timetables for the relaxation of restrictions.
England’s last easing of the lockdown was due to take place on August 1, but this was postponed after the ONS expressed concerns about a slight increase in the number of people in England testing positive for the coronavirus.
Last week, ONS figures showed that this could stabilize.
New directions will also mean that staff providing “close contact” services, including hairdressers, will now have to wear a face mask as well as a transparent visor.
The government said the move, which follows new evidence from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), is aimed at protecting customers and staff from respiratory droplets caused by sneezing, coughing or speaking.
This also applies to businesses that operate remotely, such as massage therapists working from home and those who learn in professional training environments.
Nightclubs, dance halls and discos are among the places that remain closed by law.
Stricter enforcement measures
Under current guidelines, people who refuse to wear a face mask where required face a fine of £ 100, which can be reduced to £ 50 if paid within 14 days.
The new enforcement measures will see this penalty doubled several times for subsequent offenses, to a maximum of £ 3,200.
In England, the face mask is mandatory in many indoor environments, including public transport, shops and museums, with some exemptions for children or for medical reasons.
Transport for London and the UK Transport Police have already carried out 91,501 interventions based on current face cover guidelines, the government said – barring 4,397 from boarding, asking 3,030 to leave the network and issuing 341 advisories penalty.
There will also be a crackdown on illegal gatherings of more than 30 people, which could see those responsible facing one-time fines of up to £ 10,000.
According to the government, forces across England and Wales have already stepped up patrols to prevent illegal gatherings in areas of concern, such as Leicester and Greater Manchester, where it said deployments were sometimes larger that on New Year’s Eve.
Over the weekend, West Midlands Police closed 125 parties and raves – and shut down one pub – taking action to end illegal gatherings and anti-social behavior in the area.
Further details on the new enforcement measures are to be presented in the coming week.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has said she will not allow progress against the virus to be undermined by “a small minority of foolish individuals”.
“These measures send a clear message – if you do not cooperate with the police and put our health at risk, measures will follow. “
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