When lockdown ends, what will ‘new normal’ mean for everyday life?
PUBLISHED: 13:40 06 May 2020 | UPDATED: 13:48 06 May 2020
Prime minister Boris Johnson is to announce on Sunday his plans to restart the economy and ease lockdown restrictions.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who deputised for Mr Johnson when the PM was taken ill with Covid-19, has warned that people will need to get used to a ‘new normal’, with social restrictions required for ‘some time’.
The form this will take has not been spelled out in detail – but politicians and others have hinted at ways the lockdown could be eased and what everyday life might look like.
When will I be able to go shopping again?
High Street fashion chains and others closed during lockdown are waiting to hear how they might reopen. Places like Chapelfield and Castle Quarter in Norwich could be coming back to life in the not too distant future.
However, the government has indicated that retailers may need to change how they work, bringing in measures similar to those seen in supermarkets.
Next says it will prioritise reopening larger, out-of-town outlets, where social distancing is easier, while John Lewis is “modelling for scenarios where different sizes of shops are able to open at different points in time”.
However, a trip to John Lewis, Next or M&S will feel very different. The British Retail Consortium has advised clothes shops to consider closing changing rooms and asking customers to shop alone.
There are likely to be separate entrances and exits, and contactless card payments will be encouraged, alongside increased cleaning and hygiene.
Will I be able to see my friends and family?
Families being separated and people not being able to meet up with friends has been one of the toughest aspects of the restrictions.
When a grandmother asked a Downing Street briefing if being able to hug her grandchildren would be among the first changes, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the question “brought home the emotional impact” of lockdown and he hoped she could do it “as soon as possible”.
Ministers are considering whether to allow people to meet up outdoors, Downing Street has said. A spokesman said: “Broadly the scientific and medical experts have been clear that there is less likelihood of transmission of this disease outdoors than indoors.”
The Scottish government has said it is looking at whether a small group of friends or relatives could meet in “a group or ‘bubble’”.
MORE: Lockdown review could ease restrictions to allow people to meet outdoors
What will have changed where I work?
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has reportedly held meetings with business leaders about how he can get the public back to work in a “safe and practical” way.
The plans, which were reported by The Times, reportedly include keeping members of staff two metres apart and asking those with symptoms not to come to work, as well as keeping communal areas such as canteens closed.
Companies will also need to look at staggering shifts, rethink how equipment is shared and plan safe walking routes for staff - in offices, on factory floors and at building sites. People who can will be encouraged to continue to work from home.
How will public transport cope?
Greater Anglia, First and Konnectbus have continued to run limited rail and bus services for essential workers but with extra social distancing and hygiene measures.
As more people return to work keeping passengers apart will be increasingly difficult.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says businesses could be asked to stagger employees’ working hours, to stop rush-hour crowds. It’s possible the wearing of masks might also be required.
But rail bosses have warned social distancing would be “extraordinarily difficult” to manage and could reduce train capacity by between 70% and 90%.
Many people may prefer to travel in the isolation of their car leading to congestion, parking problems and increased pollution.
When will schools return?
Schools are set to reopen to children in a “phased manner” with only certain year groups attending, the Education Secretary has said.
Gavin Williamson said the government did not have a fixed date for reopening schools but ruled out the prospect of them opening over the summer holidays.
Reports suggest primary schools, especially Year 6 pupils preparing to leave for secondary school, and those in Years 10 and 12 - who take key exams in 2021 - could be prioritised.
Measures to keep pupils and teachers safe could include limiting class sizes, groups of pupils attending on different days, staggered break times and classrooms redesigned.
Meanwhile it is unclear whether university and colleges will be in-person teaching in the autumn or whether courses will be taught fully or partly online.
MORE: Schools will reopen in ‘phased manner’, but not over summer holidays
When can I go to the pub, eat out or attend the theatre, cinema or a gig?
Many people are eagerly awaiting their first post-lockdown pint but when pubs and dining venues will be allowed to reopen is a moot point.
Last month, Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin said his chain had “for planning purposes” been assuming pubs may reopen in late June. But draft government guidance reported by the BBC says bar areas, seated areas in restaurants and cafes will remain closed - and venues should serve takeaways only.
Cinemas, theatres and live music could be among the last to reopen, though Vue Cinemas is hopeful screenings could begin in mid-July, using social distancing measures.
Norwich Theatre Royal is still taking bookings for some shows in June and July, however legendary theatre producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh recently said he fears many theatres will not be able to stage musicals until next year.
Most Norfolk outdoor music events have been cancelled and with the summer traditionally a slow time for indoor gigs many have been postponed to the autumn. But whether they will be able to take place even then remains unknown.
Will I be able to go to the gym, exercise or play sport?
The lockdown has seen swimming pools, tennis courts, gyms and many other venues closed.
There is no word on when gyms will reopen but operators are making plans on how they might enforce social-distancing and hygiene rules but operators are making plans.
PureGym said that it is now working out how its facilities could be laid out, alongside capping member numbers.
When swimming pools reopen, it is likely fewer swimmers will be let in and for less time so pools can be disinfected. Golf courses may seem the ideal place for social distancing, but England Golf says it is working to find the right conditions under which players can tee off.
The Lawn Tennis Association says it is talking to the government about how matches can resume but it is “too early to speculate”.
Will I finally be able to get a haircut?
Whether your hair is growing wild or you’ve attempted to cut it at home, after eight weeks of lockdown most of us need some expert help.
Other European countries that have begun to ease lockdown have included hairdressers and barbers among the first businesses allowed to reopen.
However it is likely that measures will mean haircuts are by appointment only with social distancing restrictions meaning salons operate below capacity, leaving every other chair empty for example.
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