Many more businesses in England will be able to reopen from 4 July, including pubs, hotels, restaurants and hairdressers.
As anticipated, Boris Johnson has relaxed the two-metre social distancing rule in a move that will allow more businesses in England to open their doors. The government has said that the latest changes are intended to "enable people to see more of their friends and family, help businesses get back on their feet and get people back in their jobs".
From Saturday 4 July, two households will be able to meet up in any setting as long as they adhere to social distancing measures. Where it is not possible to stay two metres apart, government guidance will allow people to keep a social distance of one metre as long as they follow all other guidelines to reduce the risk of transmission.
Pubs, restaurants and hairdressers will be able to reopen, as well as holiday accommodation such as hotels, B&Bs and campsites. Some leisure facilities may also reopen, if they can do so safely - including outdoor gyms and playgrounds, cinemas, museums, galleries, theme parks, libraries, social clubs, places of worship and community centres.
However, "close proximity" venues such as nightclubs, soft-play areas, indoor gyms, swimming pools, water parks, bowling alleys and spas will have to stay closed for now.
"Reducing the two-metre rule will undoubtedly bring relief to many businesses," said Edwin Morgan, director of policy at the Institute of Directors (IoD).
"A quarter of our members have said that under current social distancing rules they are likely to operate at less than half capacity. For many, this simply isn't sustainable, particularly with the furlough scheme set to wind down.
"This change isn't a panacea, and doesn't mean safety can take a backseat. If anything, the onus is now even more on directors to ensure rigorous mitigating measures are in place. In some cases, this won't be easy or cheap. With many firms already strapped for cash, the Treasury should consider supporting companies to make the necessary adjustments, particularly as some haven't been able to access schemes so far."
Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), welcomed the measures but warned that "we are still a long way from business as usual".
He said: "Broader efforts to boost business and consumer confidence will still be needed to help firms trade their way out of this crisis. Businesses … need a clear roadmap to recovery, including fresh support for the worst-affected sectors and geographic areas, and broader fiscal measures to get the economy moving again."
Written by Rachel Miller.