COVID-19: PM announces changes to social distancing and further steps out of lockdown

Please Note: All information correct at time of writing on 24 June 2020. We do our very best to make sure our information is as up to date as possible, but we’d encourage you to check out our latest articles and to check the government website for updates as they happen.

On Tuesday 23 June, Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed Parliament on the next phase of his plan to move out of lockdown in England. This included a number of sweeping measures that will see more businesses being given the green light to open, as well as changes to social distancing rules.

We’ve summarised the key changes that will affect business owners in England below.

Social distancing guidelines

From 4 July the two-metre social distancing rule will be reduced. Where it's possible to keep two metres apart, people should maintain this distance. Where it's not, people should keep ‘one metre plus’ apart meaning that people should remain at least one metre apart whilst taking measures to mitigate the risk of transmission.

Scientific experts have advised that one metre plus distancing would make the risk of transmission broadly equivalent to that of two-metre distancing.

Protecting employees and customers

The government published guidance yesterday on how businesses can take steps to protect workers and customers. There are many suggested measures, and these include:

  • avoiding face to face seating by changing office lay-outs
  • reducing the number of people in enclosed spaces
  • improving ventilation
  • using protective screens
  • using face coverings
  • closing non-essential social spaces
  • providing hand sanitiser
  • changing shift patterns so that colleagues work in set teams
  • regularly cleaning areas which people frequently touch

Reopening businesses

Not all businesses can reopen at once and therefore difficult decisions have had to be made (we've included a full list of affected sectors at the bottom of this article). For sectors which have not been allowed to reopen yet, the government is putting taskforces together to work on getting guidance out on how they can reopen safely.

Meeting other households

From this point, the government are asking people to follow ‘guidance on social contact’ rather than legislation. In that spirit, the advice is that from 4 July, two households of any size should be able to meet in any setting-indoors or outdoors (and this includes staying overnight).

It does not have to be the two same households all the time, but the government is not recommending the meeting of multiple households indoors at the same time (but outdoors the guidance is still meeting in groups of up to 6 people).

The guidance continues to be that we should all maintain social distance from anyone outside our household.


Restaurants and pubs will be able to reopen from 4 July. All hospitality indoors will be limited to table service and government guidance will be to encourage minimal staff and customer contact.

Establishments will have to ask customers for contact details to assist Test and Trace in the event of local outbreaks. The government will work with the sector to make this ‘manageable’.

From 4 July, providing no more than 2 households stay together, they can stay overnight in self-contained accommodation including hotels, bed and breakfasts and campsites as long as shared facilities are kept clean.

Other, close-contact businesses

Hairdressers will also be able to reopen from the 4 July with appropriate precautions including the use of visors.

Other close contact services (such as nail bars) will be able to reopen when the government is confident they can operate in a COVID secure way.

Final daily press briefing

Yesterday evening also saw the last of the daily press briefings, held by the Prime Minister, who was once again accompanied by the Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and the Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Patrick Vallance.

  • Although social distancing on meeting people is now based on guidance rather than legislation, the police will still be able to break up large gatherings.
  • The R-value remains between 0.7- 0.9.
  • The issue was raised about the risks of transmission in meat processing factories. Sir Patrick Vallance referred to this as being a particularly challenging environment for several reasons.
  • Professor Whitty warned that we would have to live with the virus for a very long time and cautioned that unless people take the mitigation measures seriously, there would definitely be an increase in the incidence of the virus.
  • The current advice remains that foreign travel should be avoided unless it is essential but this will be reviewed at the end of the month when the current quarantine arrangements are due to be reviewed.

More businesses to reopen, some still must remain closed

Below we’ve included the list of businesses that have been given the green light to reopen in England from 4 July, along with those which are still unable to reopen yet.

Businesses which can reopen from 4 July

  • Hotels, hostels bed and breakfast accommodation, holiday apartments or homes, cottages or bungalows, campsites, caravan parks or boarding houses
  • Places of Worship (weddings of up to 30 people will be able to go ahead)
  • Libraries
  • Community centres
  • Restaurants and cafes
  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Cinemas
  • Cafes
  • Bingo halls
  • Theatres and concert halls [guidance dictates no live performances]
  • Museums and galleries
  • Hair salons and barbers
  • Outdoor playgrounds
  • Outdoor gyms
  • Funfairs, theme parks and adventure parks and activities
  • Amusement arcades
  • Outdoor skating rinks
  • Other indoor leisure centres or facilities, including indoor games, recreation and entertainment venues
  • Social clubs
  • Model villages
  • Indoor attractions at aquariums, zoos, safari parks, farms, wildlife centres and any place where animals are exhibited to the public as an attraction

Businesses which must remain closed

  • Nightclubs
  • Casinos
  • Bowling alleys and indoor skating rinks
  • Indoor play areas including soft play
  • Spas
  • Nail bars and beauty salons
  • Massage, tattoo and piercing parlours
  • Indoor fitness and dance studios, and indoor gyms and sports venues/facilities
  • Swimming pools and water parks
  • Exhibition or conference centres - where they are to be used for exhibitions or conferences, other than for those who work for that venue

Citation can help at every step of the way

These are challenging times, especially for employees, business owners and employers. Our team of HR and Health & Safety experts provide you with the latest government news to help you work through this transitional period.

Keep an eye on our latest articlesfree guides and social media for more advice and guidance. And if you’re already a Citation client, you can call our advice line on 0345 844 4848.

If you’re not yet a client of ours and you want the advice and backing of a team of HR,  Employment Law and Health & Safety experts feel free to give our team a call on 0345 844 1111 to talk through your business needs. Or, simply fill out your details in the form opposite and we’ll be in touch as soon as possible.

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