Coronavirus pandemic: England eases virus rules to open gyms, pools, allow outdoor arts
England will allow gyms, pools and beauty salons to reopen and outdoor arts performances to resume as the country continues to emerge from months of restrictions imposed to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Outdoor pools will be allowed to open from Saturday, when team sports such as cricket will also return, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said Thursday in a televised press conference. From this weekend, actors, musicians and dancers can stage outdoor performances to socially-distanced audiences, he said.
“Normal life is slowly returning,” Dowden said, noting that the country’s performing artists “have been waiting patiently in the wings since March.” He urged people to eat out, work out and enjoy the arts to help those industries get back to economic health.
Boris Johnson’s government is trying to balance containing the virus with the need to get the economy up and running after U.K. economic output crashed by a quarter, shedding 18 years of growth in just in two months. Daily coronavirus infections are now below 1,000, with the latest daily death toll at 85.
Britain went into lockdown on March 23, and since then the government has gradually eased restrictions, with non-essential shops reopening in June and pubs, bars and restaurants allowed to reopen last weekend. Indoor theaters and music venues remain closed, while indoor pools and gyms can reopen from July 25.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced 30 billion pounds ($38 billion) of measures to boost the economy on Wednesday, including tax breaks for the property and hospitality sectors, discounted restaurant meals and a 9-billion pound program to encourage employers to take back their furloughed workers.
Sports facilities that are allowed to reopen this month will be subject to rules to ensure social-distancing and minimize the chances of transmission of the disease. They include enhanced cleaning, limiting the number of people allowed in at any time, and timed booking systems.
Other recreational team sports will follow cricket, subject to clubs publishing guidance to members, Dowden said.
“We need to get the nation match fit to defeat this disease,” Dowden said. “It’s time to eat out to help out, to enjoy the arts to help out, to work out to help out.”
From Monday, beauty salons, nail bars, tanning centers and tattooists will be allowed to reopen.
The government earlier on in the week outlined a 1.6 billion-pound rescue package for the arts, one of the sectors most affected by the lockdown. Britons will now be able to enjoy outdoor performances at Cornwall’s cliff-top Minack Theatre, and at Glyndebourne, famed for its opera, Dowden said. In another measure to protect the sector, venues and theaters will be protected from demolition and change of use, he said.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)