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What you can and can’t do as from today

In the US July 4 is a time to celebrate freedom from interference by the British government. English people will be celebrating a similar release today as lockdown rules ease. Here is a guide to official advice. Rule changes in Scotland and Wales will differ.

PARTY TIME

How many people can I meet?
The shackles are off for two households, who can meet in any location, indoors or out, public or private, so long as they awkwardly manoeuvre around each other at a distance of two metres and cough into the crooks of their elbows. More households can join in if they are part of your support bubble. The limit outdoors is six people from up to six households, with social distancing.

Shall I order a disco ball?

No. There are limits on fun and a prohibition on parties that would make social distancing difficult. This rules out hoedowns, reels and the conga but allows for cossack dancing and bhangra. Dancing is best done outside, where heavy breathing will dissipate in the open air.

I live in a small house, do we have to stand in the corners of my rooms?
Two metres is the norm, but “one metre plus” is an acceptable second best if people take precautions such as wearing facemasks.

How big can my gathering be?
The maximum is 30, but only if this consists of two households and their support bubbles. If there are more than two households then the limit is six people and it must be outdoors.

What if I’m over 70?
Restrictions are eased for all but guidelines emphasise the need to keep a safe distance. People classed as “clinically extremely vulnerable” must wait until Monday before they can meet up to six people outdoors or hug anyone in their own household. Shielding should end on August 1.

GOING OUT

Can I go to a bungalow?
Holiday bungalows are allowed under the rules along with bingo halls, model villages and “any place where animals are exhibited . . . as an attraction”.

What if I don’t like model villages?
You can also visit restaurants, pubs, cinemas, museums, galleries, visitor attractions, hotels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan parks, libraries, community centres, places of worship, outdoor gyms, film studios, landmarks and outdoor skating rinks.

Can we go to Barnard Castle?
Anyone can now visit Barnard Castle in Durham, even if they are not an adviser to the prime minister, but English Heritage requires you to book.

What about slides and monkey bars?
Playgrounds can reopen if a local authority says so. Children must be instructed not to pick their noses (or touch their faces in general).

PUB ETIQUETTE

Can I get a round in?
It will be table service only and the government has given you an excuse not to have to buy drinks for people beyond the two-household indoor limit. Official advice is to avoid social interactions with anyone from a third household indoors, even in pubs and churches.

Why are they taking my name?
Pubs and restaurants will collect customers’ names, or that of the lead person of a group, to help with contact tracing if an outbreak occurs.

How about crisps?
The tradition of laying a packet of crisps on a pub table is not covered by government guidelines, but sharing a packet is allowed in a household or its bubble. Reading between the lines, you cannot share a bowl of peanuts even by pushing it across a table in the manner of a croupier.

What if I need a wee?
Using public lavatories is discouraged but allowed.

RESTAURANTS

Where is the buffet?
Buffets are off, with restaurants such as Pizza Hut and Toby Carvery bringing food to the table instead. Prezzo and Yo! Sushi are among those that will take orders through an app.

A NIGHT ON THE TOWN

Can I get a tattoo after the pub?
The government has an animus against parlours. Tattoo parlours, piercing parlours and massage parlours are all prohibited premises.

Salons are all right, though?
Hair salons are permitted but nail salons, beauty salons, tanning salons and spas are off limits.

Can I play roulette?
Casinos are banned, as are nightclubs, bowling alleys, indoor skating rinks, indoor gyms and fitness studios, swimming pools and water parks.

What if I need a laugh?
Comedy, plays and live music are still forbidden, in part because of the likelihood of spittle from agitated comedians, actors and singers.

SECOND HOMES

Can I go to my second home?
Anyone, even people who are not government advisers, can visit a second home and stay overnight.

TRAVEL

Should I wear a mask?
On public transport, masks are mandatory for anyone over the age of ten except for people who would struggle to breathe or those with people who need to lip read.

WORSHIP

Can I go back to church?

Yes. Communal worship is allowed for up to 30 people, although capacity will be decided locally.

Can I get married?
Yes. Limits of 30 people mean that you need not invite those unwanted acquaintances. Receptions are banned except for six people outdoors or two households indoors.

Can I bury the dead?
Funerals are the same as weddings, in the eyes of government guidance.

Source:  The Times 4th July 2020