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Covid-19: Restarting Businesses and Activities

Volume 678: debated on Monday 13 July 2020

I would like to update the House on the next steps in delivering the UK Government’s covid-19 recovery strategy.

These important steps forward have been made possible by the continued efforts of businesses and the public to comply with covid-19 secure guidelines and clinical advice on testing to protect against resurgences. While there remains a long way to go in tackling this virus, we continue to head in the right direction.

The Business Secretary and I have worked with industry and public health experts to help the remaining sectors and activities to become covid-secure, and reopen as soon as possible.

Following this work, I can confirm that as of 11 July organised outdoor grassroots team sports and participation events are now able to restart, starting with cricket. Team sports will only be able to resume once the relevant sports’ bodies guidance has been reviewed by Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive.

Outdoor performances with an audience are now able to take place, as of 11 July, subject to social distancing. We will also pilot a number of indoor performances to look at how we can confidently usher socially distanced audiences indoors as soon as possible. Rehearsals and performances for broadcast are already permitted, and dance studios can already reopen for professional dancers and choreographers.

New regulations allow some additional businesses and venues to reopen. This includes outdoor swimming pools and water parks from 11 July; and salons, nail bars, spas, massage parlours, tattoo parlours, and body and skin piercing services from 13 July. Although these businesses and venues are permitted to open, treatments carried out in the highest risk zone, the area directly in front of the face, are advised against at this stage.

The changes outlined above will not apply in Leicester and businesses there will not reopen. This is in line with current easing of restrictions in the rest of the country.

From 25 July, we will allow the safe and covid-secure reopening of indoor swimming pools, gyms, fitness and dance studios, leisure centres, and other indoor sports venues and facilities (as long as the evidence continues to support our doing so). This will be enabled through a separate set of amendments to the regulations.

We must continue to proceed carefully to make sure that there is not a second peak. The changes set out above will be conditional on our ability to control the virus and respond effectively to outbreaks. The Government will measure the effect of changes but will reapply restrictions if that is what the situation requires, as we have had to do in Leicester, and we will work with local councils which have a high prevalence of covid-19 to create guidance reflecting where further business openings could be delayed.

Everybody must play their part in observing and complying with covid-19 secure and social contact guidelines to keep the virus under control and maintain our recovery. Publicly available Government guidance is being published and updated on and by sector bodies.