LOCKDOWN restrictions have been eased today in England, with shops, pubs and gyms opening their doors once more.
As society starts to reopen, it's important that you know how to keep yourself safe.
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson today urged Brits to be cautious as the rules are relaxed.
Speaking today he said: "I'm sure it will be a huge relief for those business owners who have been closed for so long, and for everyone else it's a chance to get back to doing some of the things we love and have missed.
"I urge everyone to continue to behave responsibly and remember 'hands, face, space and fresh air' to suppress Covid as we push on with our vaccination programme."
So what precautions should you be taking in each area of society?
Excited customers have already been getting their hair fixed today as salons reopened for the first time since December.
While its an exciting time for both you and your hairdresser, the experience might not be the same as what you're used to.
Experts at Taylor Taylor in London said they have been booked up with people wanting to get their colour retouched or updated and after months away from the salon – who can blame them!
Speaking to The Sun, the experts, who have salons in Shoreditch and at Liberty London, said there are some things clients can do that will help their visit run smoothly.
Magazines are still not allowed in the salon, so they advise you to bring your own entertainment, whether that's a laptop, or a book.
They said the average time for a colour appointment is three hours so it's a good idea to make sure your phone is fully charged before you attend your appointment.
The team said: "We already offer hand sanitiser stations so we try to be as fully equipped as possible. We even have spare masks should someone need one.
"If you are in for a long appointment, bring some nibbles in. Usually we offer sweets and snacks but this is something we won't be able to offer for a while."
They did however, state that drinks will still be served.
Blue Tit salon also said that during your appointment they won't converse with you – keeping conversation through the mirror in order to avoid face-to-face contact.
Retailers have spent millions of pounds making sure they're Covid-secure for customers and staff so that they can reopen safely.
To help stop the spread of the coronavirus – and any further lockdowns – shops are calling on the public to play their part too.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC), a trade body which represents over 5,000 businesses, has put together a simple set of rules for customers to follow when they are heading in store.
The BRC said that are seven things you should be doing when shopping now restrictions have eased:
- Be respectful to staff and customers: Many shop workers are returning to work for the first time in months after being furloughed during lockdown shop closures
- Wear a face mask or covering: As part of government guidelines, you can be fined for disobeying the rules – again, unless you are exempt
- Social distancing: Shoppers are also being asked to maintain social distancing, just like they do in supermarkets and other essential shops which have remained open during the latest lockdown
- Queue considerately: The biggest retailers are likely to have queuing systems in place outside and even traffic light systems to manage eager shoppers
- Follow shop signs: This includes notices asking people to follow the one way systems, which are in place in many shops so everyone can stay socially distanced and avoid walking closely past each other
- Regular hand washing:Extra hygiene measures should be followed, such as regularly washing hands. Hand sanitiser stations have been installed at doors and throughout stores by many retailers
- Shop alone: Where possible, customers should shop alone to reduce the number of people in stores at the same time. This will also help other customers to social distance while shopping.
Under new rules shops are also able to open their fitting rooms – but they must be cleaned after each use.
Government guidance states: "The enclosed nature of fitting rooms may result in increased risk of transmission of Covid-19. They should therefore be carefully managed to reduce that risk."
Many of us who love going to the gym have been partaking in online fitness classes – but it's just not the same.
While thinking about how you need to keep safe in the gym, you should also remember that your body and its ability to lift weights, may have changed since you last visited.
LloydsPharmacy Pharmacist, Anshu Kaura said: “It can be easy for us to rush back into our pre-lockdown, 5 days-a-week, gym routine.
"However, it’s vital that we ease our bodies back into it gently. We can’t expect our body to pick-up those 15kg weights straight away, so start off with smaller ones and work your way back up to that “pre-lockdown” weight you may be used to.”
When you're at the gym, there are some steps you need to adhere to.
Under the new rules, people from different households must not deliberately mix until later this summer – meaning many will have to work out alone.
Group classes are also banned indoors in a bid to reduce contact between gym-goers.
Further easing of the rules will come on May 17 when sauna and steam rooms will re-open under Boris' plan.
Outdoor facilities – including swimming pools and tennis courts – were opened on March 29.
Hand sanitisers will be dotted around the gym and in some places you must book a slot if you want to train.
After using the equipment you also need to clean it with antibacterial spray, so that the next person using it can do so safely.
PureGym has sites up and down the country and said that while you don't have to wear a mask when you are working out, you should do when you are walking around the gym.
It said: "Please wear a face covering when entering the gym, in communal areas and changing rooms, and when moving around the gym.
"This can be removed during exercise. Please ensure that all used masks are disposed of safely in one of the bins provided."
Pubs and restaurants
If you're going to any venue then it's likely you will notice a QR code at the door inviting you to check in to the venue.
Under new rules every person in your party will have to check in – whereas before just one person had to.
You will be able to enjoy a meal or a drink at establishments that have outdoor areas.
If you have to enter this area by walking through the pub then you will have to wear a mask or covering and the same goes if you're going to the loo.
Under the new rules you will also have to book a test if you have sat next to someone who is infected by Covid-19.
You'll also have to follow social distancing rules and follow any one-way systems in place at your boozer.
There will be signs and posters to guide you around the venue.
Families across the country will rejoice as zoos once again reopen today.
Zoos are often vast areas which is great for social distancing – which you will have to maintain.
While most parts of zoos are outside you will have to wear a mask when you go into certain enclosure such as aquariums.
Many zoos already have one way systems in place so you will have to follow them in order to maintain a safe distance from others.
Chester Zoo, which has been certified as Covid secure, states some rules that you need to follow to keep you safe:
- Don’t dwell too long in indoor spaces or at viewing points and be patient if you have to wait for other visitors to move on
- Wear a face covering in all indoors spaces, cafes, shops, and animal houses
- For animal health reasons you must also wear a face covering when visiting our lemur walk through experience. This applies to all visitors excluding children under 3 when carried by an adult
- Don’t meet or socialise at the zoo in group of more than 6 people or two households
- Clean your hands regularly using our hand sanitising and hand washing stations
- Avoid touching surfaces, such as fences and information boards, and stand behind the yellow line at viewing windows
Self-catered staycations with one household
At present, it is still banned for Brits to go on holiday abroad – in a bid to keep emerging variants out of the country.
But new rules mean you can go away in the UK with members of your own household.
This means you could stay at a hotel, caravan or camping park, as long as you're not staying indoors with people who you do not live with.
If you're staying at a hotel then make sure you pack a mask as you will need to wear one when you check in at reception.
You will need to keep your mask on until you get to your hotel room and you should also remain a safe distance from other holidaymakers.
Sites like Haven won't be offering indoor entertainment until further restrictions are lifted.
Other indoor activities will also be restricted with social distancing and reduced capacity, including restaurants and other entertainment venues.
Similar to last year, swimming sessions must also be prebooked, with slots opening a week in advance of guests staying.
Capacity will also be restricted to 40 per cent to allow guests to social distance, although aqua parks remain closed.
Only guests who have booked Stay+Play packages will be able to use the amenities.
Depending on the UK Covid situation, the parks hope to return back to more normality by June 21.
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