The UK government is looking to relax lockdown measures for pubs, restaurants and weddings – earlier than originally envisaged – in an attempt to avert a potential jobs crisis in the hospitality industry this summer, The Sunday Times reported.
The measures, set to be unveiled this week, include allowing pubs, cafes and restaurants to use outside areas and permitting indoor weddings and funerals of up to 10 people from early July. Hairdressers may be able to reopen before July 4, according to the newspaper.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed off on the new measures Friday night after a meeting with Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, the report said. Johnson also wanted to reduce social distancing from two meters (6.6 feet) to one, if justified by scientific evidence.
The UK economy is reeling from impact of the lockdown during the pandemic, which has killed more than 40,000, the highest death toll in Europe and the second globally. In recent weeks, the government has begun cautiously to ease the restrictions. Yet, health authorities in the country warned that the rate of transmission is still high in some areas, raising concerns over the easing.
Meanwhile, countries like Italy and Spain are further ahead in reopening their economies. Starting Wednesday, Italians can travel within the country without restrictions, after almost three months of lockdown measures, a decision in part designed to boost tourism. In parts of Spain, which had implemented one of the world’s strictest lockdowns since March, bullfights, night clubs and bars can reopen with limited capacity.