Theatre exec welcomes 'lifeline' planned lifting of restrictions on July 19

A quiet Shaftesbury Avenue with the Gielgud Theatre in London

A theatre boss said the planned lifting of Covid lockdown restrictions on July 19 was "a lifeline" for the industry.

Julian Bird, chief executive of Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre, said he welcomed confirmation of the date meaning that theatres can open to full audiences for the first time in 16 months."

"This is a lifeline for our industry, essential for the survival of theatres across the country," Mr Bird said.

"We will be working closely with Government in the coming days on revising the performing arts guidelines, ensuring that our audiences and staff can feel safe and confident in returning," he added.

Richard Burge, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said businesses will welcome the ability to reopen their doors, increase capacity and implement new working plans.

He added: “Next up needs to come systems to enable the safe return of more international visitors and outbound business travel.

“In the immediate term all those involved must double-down on raising London’s vaccination rate.

“And whilst good work is being done to reassure about hygiene standards, we must also now hear clarity regarding face covering usage on London’s transport network.

“Confidence in public transport is key to both commuter and visitor return to London.”

Lockdown rules in England: What's changing from July 19

What has happened to social distancing and the rule of six?

The 'one metre plus' rule has been scrapped entirely, as of July 19 in England. However, some guidance to maintain social distancing in certain situations will remain in place of the legal restrictions.

Social distancing guidance will continue if someone is Covid positive and self-isolating, or in airports, or other ports of entry, to avoid travellers arriving from amber or red-list countries mixing with those from green list areas.

Limits on social contact in England have disappeared, meaning the end of the rule of six indoors and the limit of 30 people for outdoor gatherings.

Do I still need to wear a face mask?

There is now no legal requirements to wear face coverings - but guidance still encourages using masks in some settings, including hospitals, healthcare settings and in crowded enclosed public spaces.

Has the working from home guidance changed?

The guidance on working from home has gone. It's ultimately down to employers to decide whether to keep staff at home or in the office, but the government say employers are able to plan the return of staff to the workplace.

What about weddings and funerals?

The current limits on numbers of people who can attend weddings, funerals and other life events has ended.

What's happening in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland?

The changes to Covid rules announced by Boris Johnson, only impact England and will not change regulations in Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland.

The Welsh Government “would like to move together” with other parts of the UK in lifting coronavirus restrictions but will only do so if it is “right for Wales”, health minister Eluned Morgan said on Monday 5 July.

As of July 19, restrictions in Scotland have eased, with all areas of the country moving to level 0. The government is aiming to lift all major restrictions in Scotland by August 9.

In Northern Ireland, some significant restrictions have already been eased including allowing the resumption of live music and the lifting of caps on organised outdoor gatherings.

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The majority of people want face masks to remain compulsory on public transport and in shops beyond this month, a poll has suggested.

Seven in every 10 people (71%) agreed that face masks should continue to be mandatory on public transport for a further period of time once restrictions are lifted, according to the YouGov survey of 2,749 British adults.

Roughly one in five (21%) said masks should not be compulsory.

People wearing face masks in Covent Garden

The survey also found that 66% of those polled said face masks should continue to be mandatory in shops and some enclosed public places - while 27% disagreed.

According to the poll, survey respondents aged over 65 were more likely to want face masks on public transport (80%) than those aged 18-24 (59%).

There were similar attitudes among the respective age groups when it came to such restrictions in shops - with 78% of people aged over 65 wanting face masks to continue, compared with 57% of those aged 18-24.