What do the new Covid rules mean for gyms, pubs, restaurants and universities?

GYMS

By Maria Lally

Gyms remain largely unaffected. However, the Prime Minister reiterated that groups of six people cannot go to the gym together.

Mr Johnson said: “Covid secure venues like gyms can still hold more than six in total.

“Within those venues, however, there must not be individual groups larger than six, and groups must not mix socially or form larger groups.”

As cases rise, he also warned he is not afraid to take measures further should it be necessary.

For now, fitness junkies can continue their regime as normal – providing it’s at a Covid-secure gym and they adhere to strict social distancing guidelines.  Changing rooms are still to be avoided and gyms are still encouraging people to change at home. 

WEDDINGS 

By Katie Russell 

Rest assured, certain occasions, including weddings, will be exempt from this six-person rule. Weddings were allowed to resume from July 4, with up to 30 people able to attend under social distancing rules. From August 15, receptions of up to 30 people have been permitted. Therefore, guidelines will remain the same.

The 30-person guest list must include the couple, guests, suppliers (such as the photographer), and registrar or celebrant. This is provided they comply with social distancing rules. Guests will have to stand or sit at least one metre apart, as well as take other safety precautions – such as wearing a mask. According to the Covid-19 guidance for small marriages and civil partnerships, wedding ceremonies in England should be kept “as short as reasonably possible” and limited to just what is legally binding.

We have spoken to wedding industry experts to find out what a socially distanced celebration might look like, and whether you should postpone your wedding for the foreseeable future.

SMALL PARTIES & EVENTS

By Eilidh Hargreaves

While the restrictions won’t apply to schools, workplaces or Covid-secure weddings, funerals and organised team sports, it will affect parties and events. While close-proximity venues such as nightclubs will remain closed for now, the possibility of a small party for a maximum of six people in a private dining room, at a restaurant, indoors or outside, is realistic. 

Johnny Roxburgh, party architect to the rich and famous, including the Queen, Prince William and Sting, says the dos and don’ts of party planning will need to be tweaked.

“Dancing and party games will be a part of celebrations but as with everything else, we will need to adapt them to suit the regulations at the time of the event. If you have a small venue with a tiny space for a dance floor then it’s not going to work. If you have plenty of space however you should look to position the bar in one area, a dance floor in a separate room and utilise as many outdoor spaces as possible using tents, heaters and canopies.”

Read more: What are the rules for hosting parties and events?

ECONOMY AND BUSINESS

By Tim Wallace

Slamming the brakes on reopening threatens to undermine growing confidence supercharged by schemes such as Eat Out To Help Out.

Life will be particularly difficult for the events industry, with stadiums, theatres and other venues now facing the end of the taxpayer-funded furlough scheme next month with little idea of when they can reopen. It raises the threat of mass sackings for previously furloughed staff who are still unable to work.

The changes will add a new note of uncertainty for the wider economy too.

Kallum Pickering, an economist at Berenberg Bank, said: “Any pause or reversal of progress easing social distancing will restrain the economic recovery. A big part of that is confidence and uncertainty.”

The US has already had more of a “second wave”, forcing new restrictions, but this has not stopped the economy from getting back on its feet – a point which may give cause for modest optimism in the UK.

Mr Pickering said: “The data show it seemed to work well to flatten the curve again, which is good news, and the US recovery continued. It perhaps slowed a little, but by and large this pausing of easing lockdown restrictions did not disturb the recovery.”

Yael Selfin, chief economist at KPMG, said the restrictions could have an effect on the wider economy if schools and workplaces take them as a sign that things are getting worse.

She said: “It certainly doesn’t help with the feel good factor, but all depends on how this will be applied to the workplace and to schools. At the moment, there are guidelines in place which, provided they are adhered to, the new restrictions should not have an impact.

“But they are likely to point at a certain direction nevertheless, potentially making some companies and workers rethink their plans to go back to the office.”

SPORT

By Christopher Hope

Trials for the reopening of sports stadiums at the beginning of next month will have to be scaled back and a reopening on October 1 will be kept under review, Mr Johnson said.

The Prime Minister said in July that he wanted “to bring back audiences in stadiums” from the beginning of next month. So far seven pilots for football, cricket, rugby, horse racing and snooker fans have been staged, with another 12 due to be held before the end of this month.

The biggest – a football match at Brighton and Hove Albion’s stadium – saw 2,500 fans gather and one of the future pilots was planned to see 8,000 fans gathering.

However, in his No 10 statement, Mr Johnson said the plans will have to be rethought, with all future pilots capped at just 1,000 spectators.

He said: “At the present time we must also, I’m afraid, revise plans to pilot larger audiences in venues later this month and review our intention to return audiences to stadiums and conference centres from 1 October.

“That doesn’t mean we’re going to scrap the programme entirely it just means we are going to review and abridge it.”

Mr Johnson added he hoped that his plans for daily 20-minute tests for all would allow sports stadiums and theatres to play host to more spectators safely.

“Theatres and sports venues could test all audience members on the day and let in those with a negative result, all those who are not infectious,” he said.

The first day of the St Leger Festival was attended by 2,500 racegoers before the decision was made to conduct the rest of the event behind closed doors.

Doncaster council instructed Arena Racing Company, which operates the track, to close the rest of the four-day event to spectators ahead of the Prime Minister’s press conference.

Ron Jones, the council’s Labour mayor said allowing a limited number of spectators to attend the four-day festival posed a “major risk”.

The course planned to welcome around 6,000 people on Saturday.

Future fixtures where pilots will be carried out include three women’s and men’s football games, four county cricket matches, a rugby union match between Gloucester and Harlequins, horse racing at Warwick and Newmarket, a basketball match and a speedway motorcycling event.

A department source said there was still “no decision” on whether spectators will be allowed back into grounds on October 1 although the plans would be reviewed.

The source added: “The pilots programme has been successful – not aware of any issues of transmission we’ve had and sports have managed very well to keep fans safe.”