Government sets up task forces to plan safe reopening of pubs, salons, places of worship and more

The government has set up five ministerial-led task forces looking at how to safely reopen pubs, salons and other industries closed due to coronavirus.

The task forces - which will be "crucial" to boosting the economy - will look at developing "new Covid-19 secure guidelines" to reopen businesses where loser contact between people is unavoidable.

On Wednesday the government altered lockdown in England by allowing "unlimited" outdoor time and encouraging people to return to work, but with a recession looming ministers are eager to move forward to 'Step two' and 'Step three' of easing lockdown, which would see a further opening of industries.

The government hopes it can move to step two of relaxing lockdown no earlier than June 1, when non-essential retail shops will be able to in reopen in "phases".

Many people are hoping pubs can reopen soon.

Step three will be made no earlier than July 4, when ministers hope other closed industries, such as aviation, hospitality and personal care, will be able to gradually reopen.

To facilitate the safe reopening of these industries, the following task forces have been set up:

  • Pubs and restaurants - led by the Department for Business, Energy and industrial Strategy

  • Non-essential retail, including salons - led by the Department for Business, Energy and industrial Strategy

  • Recreation and leisure, including tourism, culture and heritage, libraries, entertainment and sport - led by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport

  • Places of worship, including faith, community and public buildings - led by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government

  • International aviation, reflecting the unique challenges that sector is facing - led by the Department for Transport

The measures which were lifted in England on Wednesday have not been accepted by the devolved governments of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland where lockdown restrictions now differ.

In England members of the public will now be allowed to spend more time outside, meet a friend at the park and view a potential new home.

Employees are also being encouraged to return to offices and factories where safe to do so.

The task forces will also look at reopening gyms.

It comes as warnings of a recession grow.

ITV News Economic Editor Joel Hills says one is "self-evidently" going to happen as the country's finances continues to suffer.

The economy contracted by 5.8% in March, the biggest monthly fall that the ONS has ever recorded, said Joel Hills.

The Daily Telegraph said that a Treasury document estimated the UK’s deficit could reach £337 billion this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, compared to the forecast £55 billion in March’s Budget.