With everything that’s been happening in the news recently it’s possible you may have missed some of the latest developments concerning the Coronavirus lockdown measures here in the UK. So we’ve pulled together all the latest news regarding two of our favourite subjects – shopping and travel.
The UK government has announced that all “non-essential” shops in England will be able to re-open from Monday 15th June. This means that high street shops, department stores and shopping centres selling things like clothes, shoes, books, furniture, electronics and other consumer goods will all be able to re-open to the public provided certain rules on social distancing are maintained.
It’s Shopping But Not As We Know It
The government has issued a set of guidelines for retailers and staff to help them prepare for re-opening their doors to the public. It’s likely to be a very different shopping experience from the one we remember, at least for a while anyway
The core principal of social distancing which requires individuals from different households to keep two metres apart from one-another will remain in force. This is likely to limit the number of people permitted inside most stores at any one time which in turn may to lead to queues outside some shops like the ones we’ve seen at many supermarkets.
The current UK government guidelines require members of the public to wear face coverings/masks when using public transport and advises their use in other settings where social distancing can be difficult such as supermarkets. This advice is likely to extend to all shops meaning face masks are advised but not required by government legislation. However individual shops may make their own rules requiring that masks be worn.
Shoppers may be asked to sanitize their hands before entering and there may be restrictions on handling the products or trying on clothes.
Hairdressers, Cafes and Restaurants
Places like hairdressers, nail bars and beauty salons, as well as cafes, pubs and other hospitality venues will not be permitted to re-open on the 15th June. These venues will remain closed until July at the earliest. This is because the risk of contracting Coronavirus is greater in environments where people linger for longer.
Other UK Nations
The government’s announcement only applies to shops in England. The situation in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is in the hands of the local governments in each of those regions. While different timescales might be applied in each of the nations the rules are likely to be broadly similar.
The UK Foreign Office is currently advising against all but essential international travel for an indefinite period. However, countries across Europe are preparing for a return to both domestic and international travel and tourism.
There’s been a lot of discussion about how international travel can be made safe for both passengers and the public in each country. Possible solutions have included measures like quarantines and “air-bridges”.
The UK government announced recently that all individuals arriving into the UK from outside (both visitors and UK residents) must self-isolate (quarantine themselves) for 14 days, or face a £1,000 fine. Arrivals must provide information including the address where they will be quarantining, and the authorities have said they will carry out spot checks. Failure to supply an address may result in a £100 fine. New arrivals will also be strongly advised to download and use the NHS contact tracing app. If international travellers are unable to provide the address where they will self-isolate, they will be required to do so in accommodation arranged by the government. The government says these measures “will be introduced as soon as possible”. A list of exemptions is still to be confirmed, but currently includes passengers arriving from Ireland.
The quarantine measures are expected to be very difficult to manage and enforce and are so restrictive that they are likely to discourage all but the most essential international travel. In order to get around the need for quarantines, deals may be struck between countries with similar levels of Coronavirus which would allow travel to and from these countries without the need for quarantine. These arrangement are being referred to as “air-bridges”. These air-bridges could allow for travel between the UK and other countries where the risk of contracting coronavirus is the same as in the UK without the need for quarantine.
The idea of taking a foreign holiday is probably the last thing on most people’s minds right now. However some popular holiday destinations such as Spain, Italy and Turkey have announced that they will be opening their borders to international tourists from as early as mid-June. These countries and many others rely heavily on international tourism for their economic stability and so there is an obvious incentive for them to re-open. However, in the absence of an “air-bridge” being established between these countries and the UK passengers returning from holiday would be required to quarantine themselves for 14 days.
With so much uncertainty it would be a bold and possibly foolhardy move to plan a foreign holiday for anytime this year. But that doesn’t mean you can’t look forward to a little get-away.
As the lockdown measures continue to ease across the UK it is likely that domestic tourism will experience an unprecedented boom as holiday-makers seek to explore some of the excellent holiday options available right here on home shores.