Thursday, 7 July 2022 – 11:40

Boris Johnson expected to announce changes to Coronavirus restrictions on Tuesday

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce plans in Parliament on Tuesday for the reopening of some more sectors of the economy from 4 July.

Plans are also expected to be announced for changes to the current 2m social distancing rule.

All non-essential retail that can comply with COVID-secure guidelines have already been allowed to reopen in England, though some retailers are still opening gradually over the coming weeks. In Wales, non-essential retail outlets have started to reopen today following changes to Coronavirus restrictions announced by First Minister Mark Drakeford on Friday.

It is understood that Mr Johnson has spent Monday discussing and finalising planned changes to Coronavirus restrictions in England, including on the 2m social distancing rule. While the social distancing rule in England is set to 2m, this distance varies around the world, with some countries setting rules of 1m distancing or distances between 1m and 2m.

In previous weeks, some MPs and business leaders have urged the government to lower the 2m rule to 1m, warning that many venues, especially in the hospitality industry, may be unable to reopen if the rule is not changed.

If changed, it would come after Northern Ireland announced last week that the social distancing requirement for schools would only be 1m when they reopen in mid-to-late August.

When Boris Johnson unveiled the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, he said that some of the hospitality industry and other public places may be able to reopen no earlier than July. The government has said that the roadmap has always been conditional on its five tests for easing lockdown being met, but ministers have recently suggested that the UK is on track to meet the roadmap set out back in May.

Details on the possible reopening of pubs, restaurants and hotels could all be announced on Tuesday, as could plans for the reopening of gyms and sports facilities.

The potential further easing of lockdown measures comes as just 15 people were confirmed to have died in the UK with a positive COVID-19 test on Sunday – the lowest daily toll since the middle of March. In total, 42,647 people are now confirmed to have died in the UK with COVID-19, though actual numbers are feared to be higher due to government data not including deaths whereby COVID-19 was suspected but not confirmed.

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