Lockdown rules are set to be eased further across England on Saturday as the country continues to tentatively open back up.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced to postpone the latest phase of a recovery on August 1 amid concerns the rate of coronavirus infection had increased slightly.
However, data from the Office for National Statistics last week suggested this was levelling off.
Which lockdown rules are being lifted?
From Saturday, casinos, theatres and bowling alleys will be allowed to reopen in England.
Live indoor performances and small wedding receptions will also be permitted as restrictions are eased.
The new rules will allow socially distanced audiences at theatre, music and performance venues, as well as the continuation of a trial of a small number of fans at sporting events.
The final of the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield will be the first pilot event.
The current timeline hopes to allow spectators back at sporting events from October 1.
Beauty saloons, spas and tattoo studios will be able to offer an almost full range of services and treatment with “close contact” permitted.
Skating rinks and soft play centres will be allowed to reopen too.
Prime Minister Johnson said the new rules “will allow more people to return to work and the public to get back to more of the things they have missed”.
He added: “We will not hesitate to put on the brakes if required, or to continue to implement local measures to help to control the spread of the virus”.
All will be required to be “Covid-secure”, which will include limits on capacity.
The easing of restrictions applies only to England. Devolved powers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland mean they are able to set their own timelines.
The new guidance will not apply to areas that are in a local lockdown.
This currently includes Preston, which was added to a list of 18 other areas that were kept in local lockdown last week. The full list for England is as follows:
- Blackburn with Darwen
- Hyndburn (Lancashire)
- Pendle (Lancashire)
- Burnley (Lancashire)
- Oadby and Wigston (Leicestershire)
- Eden (Cumbria)
- Northampton (Northamptonshire)
Face masks rules
The lockdown rules will also get tougher on face masks.
The government is also set to introduce tougher fines for those failing to wear a mask where it is compulsory to do so, such as on public transport and in shops.
The updated rules will see the fine for not wearing a mask doubled for each offence.
The current fine is £100 – halved if paid within 14 days – but could now rise to a maximum of £3,200 for repeat offenders.
“Most people in this country are following the rules and doing their bit to control the virus, but we must remain focused and we cannot be complacent,” Johnson said.
“That is why we are strengthening the enforcement powers available to use against those who repeatedly flout the rules.”
People are also now required to wear a face mask in museums, galleries, cinemas and places of worship.
However, they are not necessary at hairdressers, gyms and leisure centres, dentists and opticians.
The easing of the England lockdown will also now allow for up to 30 guests at wedding and civil partnership ceremonies.
That number includes officiants, photographers, security and caterers, as well as the couple and their guests, but does not include staff employed by the venue.
Wedding receptions or parties following the ceremony will also be allowed for the first time. These will also be allowed no more than 30 guests.
However, they must be held in a “Covid-secure” way. The guidance remains keen to address the danger of spreading the virus through droplets or aerosol means by singing or shouting.