British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the government could look to reopen the hospitality industry by July as he set out a “roadmap” for easing coronavirus restrictions, including asking people to return to work if they can’t perform their jobs at home.
In a 14-minute TV address on Sunday evening local time, Johnson said if the rate of infection remains low, the UK may reopen “at least some of the hospitality industry and other public places, provided they are safe and enforce social distancing.”
His words were supported by a graphic of an entry ticket, which suggests that cinemas and theatres could fall under the government plans after they have been crippled by months of closure.
Johnson also said people who can’t work from home should return to work as soon as possible. He used construction workers as an example, but the message could theoretically be applied to those who work on film and TV sets. More detail will be published on Monday.
“Work from home if you can, but you should go to work if you can’t work from home. And to ensure you are safe at work, we have been working to establish new guidance for employers to make workplaces COVID-secure,” he said, adding that people should avoid public transport where possible.
The British Film Commission has been feeding into government plans in this area by drafting industry-wide safety protocols for high-end UK film and TV shoots. Obtained by Deadline, the draft guidelines are designed to keep sets safe from coronavirus, and ensure that thousands of industry freelancers can return to employment.
In another rule change that will impact production, Johnson said people landing at British airports will be forced to self-isolate for 14 days in an effort to prevent further outbreaks of COVID-19. France is exempt from the measure. This will also feed into the safety protocols being drawn up the British Film Commission, which recommended in its draft proposals that foreign actors and crew be quarantined when arriving in the UK.
Under Johnson’s roadmap, he announced that from Wednesday, people can take “unlimited” outdoor exercise, “sit in the sun” and drive to other locations in an immediate loosening of lockdown restrictions. He said some shops will be able to open from June, before parts of the hospitality industry can return to work in July.
Johnson said the plans are subject to a series of “big ifs,” including the rate of infection — or “R” rate — being kept below one, and evolving scientific advice. “It is coming down the mountain that is often more dangerous,” he warned.
The government has changed its coronavirus slogan to reflect the evolving guidance, dropping its “stay at home” edict and replacing it with “stay alert.” Ministers have been keen to emphasize, however, that people should continue to stay at home as much as possible.
Nearly 32,000 people have died from coronavirus in UK hospitals and care homes, meaning the country’s death toll is the worst in Europe and is second only to America in the world. Britain has been in strict lockdown since March 23.
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