SUMMER is back on, with pubs, hotels and campsites all free to reopen in just over a week, Boris Johnson has announced.
Hairdressers, cinemas and restaurants will also return on ‘Super Saturday’, July 4, when the two-metre rule will be replaced with ‘one-metre plus’.
Weddings with up to 30 people present will be permitted, as will stays in holiday homes and caravans.
Any two households of any size will be allowed to meet indoors — but kisses and cuddles are still off-limits.
Announcing the latest relaxation of lockdown rules, the prime minister told MPs: ‘Almost as eagerly awaited as a pint will be a haircut, particularly by me.’
The toll of people who have died after testing positive for Covid-19 rose by another 171 yesterday to 42,927.
That compares with 980 on April 10 at the peak of the crisis, while infections have also fallen sharply.
Some experts warned that Mr Johnson risked letting the virus make a comeback but he said the changes were ‘conditional and reversible’. ‘Today we can say our long national hibernation is beginning to come to an end,’ the PM said. He added later: ‘Frankly I can’t wait to go to a pub or restaurant, even if it’s not compatible with the new diet I’m on.’
He warned people against ‘overdoing it’, saying: ‘I hope July 4 will be a great day but we can’t have writhing scenes in the beer garden when the virus can be passed on.’
Chancellor Rishi Sunak was pleased by the PM’s decision after the number of workers furloughed climbed again to 9.2million. ‘I can’t wait to get back to the pub and I don’t even drink,’ he tweeted — alongside a photo of himself giving a cheery thumbs-up towards what appeared to be a kitchen shop.
Labour welcomed the changes but demanded to see the science behind them. The chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty had previously said he wanted the two-metre rule to stay until the end of the pandemic.
But he dismissed that comment as ‘shorthand’ yesterday.
He said the advice was still to stay two metres from others if possible, with mitigating precautions required in indoor settings such as pubs where that is not practical.
‘If people hear a distorted version of what is said and start behaving in ways they would have before this all happened, we will get an uptick,’ he said.
‘This is a balance of risk, but it is absolutely not risk-free and nobody thinks it is.’
Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance added: ‘You are looking at things like orientation, face coverings, screens, the number of people in an enclosed environment, the time people spend there. Don’t be fooled that this has gone away.’
Sir David King, one of Sir Patrick’s predecessors, said it was still ‘far too premature’ to end the two-metre rule.
‘We’ve got a long way to go between now and July 4 to get the level of infectivity down,’ he said.
‘I feel very nervous about two metres being dropped to one metre, but much more nervous about it being dropped indoors and places where people are eating and drinking.’
There was no respite for businesses including nightclubs, nail bars, indoor gyms and swimming pools, which must remain closed beyond July 4.
‘To us this is bizarre because we are part of the solution,’ said Glenn Earlam, of David Lloyd Clubs.
‘If people come to health and fitness facilities it helps boost their immune system — the chief medical officer has regularly said that health and fitness is one of the best things you can do to protect yourself from Covid-19.’
Millie Kendall, of the British Beauty Council, said the continuing shutdown was ‘very frustrating’. ‘It’s bizarre because nails and beauty are so hygiene and safety conscious,’ she added.
Mr Johnson said the government was establishing task forces to ensure the businesses still shut can reopen. ‘We are trying to make it work as fast as we can,’ he said. ‘This package does not represent the summit of our ambitions.’
Announcing an immediate end to the daily Downing Street press briefings, he said: ‘We’ve made great progress in controlling the virus and we want to make sure we have something to say.’
He added: ‘There probably will be more outbreaks so you won’t have seen the last of me.’