Museums, cinemas, galleries and other cultural venues are set to be allowed to reopen as long as social distancing measures are kept in place, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce this afternoon.
The easing would come into effect on 4 July, in tandem with the reopening of other parts of the hospitality industry such as pubs, restaurants and hairdressers.
“The more we open up, the more important it is that everyone follows the social distancing guidelines. We will not hesitate to reverse these steps if it is necessary to stop the virus running out of control,” a source in Johnson’s office told Reuters.
The announcement will be made from parliament this afternoon.
Johnson will also reveal the findings of a review into whether social distancing measures can be relaxed and the two-metre gap reduced.
The Prime Minister has weathered heavy criticism from industry who say an easing of social distancing is required in order for some businesses to operate properly.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said over the weekend he believed England is “clearly on track” to ease social distancing measures. He also did not rule out the possibility that people may have to register their details before going to a pub or restaurant.
The World Health Organisation recommends a distance of at least 1m to avoid infection, but UK scientific advisers say that a distance of 1m carries up to 10 times the risk of being 2m apart.
Non-essential shops have already been allowed to reopen in England, as long as measures are taken to enforce the two-metre rule.
“The proposals that we will bring forward are how you can safely, safely reduce the two metres with the sort of mitigations we have been talking about,” said Hancock.
“I get the problems with the two-metre rule of course, ultimately there are problems with the fact that there’s a virus and the challenge for the country, for all countries is how to get as much of normal life as possible going again.”