Boris Johnson expected to say cinemas and pubs can reopen as two-metre rule scrapped

Boris Johnson is expected to confirm on Tuesday that cinemas, pubs, museums and galleries in England will be allowed to reopen from July 4.

The Prime Minister is set to press ahead with easing the coronavirus lockdown as he announces that the two-metre rule aimed at halting the spread of the virus will be ditched in favour of a less stringent social distancing restriction.

And he is expected to spell out how restaurants and hairdressers, which have been shut since March, can all safely reopen on the same date.

Mr Johnson will consult his top ministers on the plans in a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning before making a statement to the Commons at 12:30pm.

The PM is also widely expected to announce an expansion of the “social bubbles” plan which has allowed some limited contact between people living in different households.

But he will make clear that the public must continue to avoid unnecessary contact and observe social distancing rules, while Number 10 has said it “will not hesitate to put the handbrake on to stop the virus running out of control” again.

Dr Jenny Harries, the Government’s deputy chief medical officer, on Monday said the example of Germany — where the reproduction rate of the virus had increased since some measures were eased — showed that social distancing should “still apply”.

“Just because life is feeling a bit more back to normal, don’t suddenly jump to where you were, for example, this time last year,” she said on Monday.

“We need to learn to go forward with restrictions in our lives in order to get the maximum benefit from some of this easing.”

The Government has been under increasing pressure from Conservative backbenchers and those in the hospitality sector to rip up the two-metre rule in favour of looser restrictions that are closer to the one-metre distancing guidance set out by the World Health Organisation.

Some pub and restaurant chains have said they will not be able to profitably reopen with the current curbs in force, prompting Mr Johnson to order a review that reported this week.

The Government is expected to come down in favour of a “one-metre-plus” plan, which will insist people should remain two metres apart unless they are wearing a mask or if other mitigating measures, such as screens erected at tables, are in place.

Pubs could also take the names and details of customers upon entry to ensure they can be contacted if a case of the virus is reported among customers.

The Times meanwhile reports that the Government is poised to relax the UK’s requirement for all arrivals into the country, including returning Britons, to self-isolate for 14 days.

The move could pave the way for summer holidays abroad, with ministers said to be close to finalising a list of ten countries it is considered safe to travel to without the need for quarantine.

An announcement on the so-called “air bridges” plan is expected before the start of next week.

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