June 21 – a date that all of us have been waiting for with bated breath as the country plans to move toward normality.
This week, our optimism increased, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that there is a “good chance” the one-metre-plus rule and social distancing will be scrapped next month. Although further epidemiological data will be required before a decision can be officially reached; the dwindling infection rate and success of the vaccination programme point toward an exciting summer for Great Britain.
The next step
The big June 21 removal of restrictions follows two previous phases of lockdown easing – step one took place on April 12 and another is tentatively set for May 17. While restrictions will still differ across the devolved nations, this stage of the country’s reopening covers indoor hospitality, entertainment and possibly foreign travel.
Mr Johnson said he feels like the next stage of the reopening on May 17 “is going to be good”. This is a sentiment echoed by the various sectors of our economy; the resumption of trade later this month will reawaken the thousands of businesses stifled by the pandemic.
What changes on June 21?
By June 21, every adult is predicted to have been offered their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This means England will be able to progress to the third step of the Government’s roadmap for lifting lockdown.
The final easement of restrictions could see us returning to the life we left behind at the start of the pandemic. Alongside the remaining hospitality services that could not open in previous steps; large gatherings, like weddings and live events, may take place at full capacity. It has been proposed that nightclubs will also be able to reopen their doors from this date.
The prospect of attending a busy event may seem implausible after over a year of restrictions – but, last Sunday, the Government held a concert with 5,000 closely-packed music fans in attendance. No masks. No social distancing. No rule of six. This event was conducted in the name of science.
With supervised lateral flow testing and mysterious scientists armed with clipboards weaving their way in-between the audience; everything was taken into account, from audience movement and interaction, ventilation, duration, catering and alcohol consumption. The information gleaned from this event will help inform the planned return to normality this summer.
Controlling the virus
Unfortunately, for every aspect of our former lives we reclaim, there will be stark reminders of the pandemic. The Government’s COVID testing will become commonplace in day-to-day life. To further mitigate risks, masks, screens and one-way systems are also likely here to stay. This could mean that cinema and theatre-goers will have to keep their face coverings on during shows.
According to The Times, the large gatherings will also have a limit on attendance after June 21 to prevent “pinch points” on public transportation. Meanwhile, COVID vaccine passports will likely be instated to assist foreign travel. The NHS are currently developing an app which will show if you’ve had a vaccine or if you’ve been recently tested.
We should certainly look to the coming weeks and months with optimism – however, as tempting as it may be to hug your loved one, it is important that people do not let their guard down yet. Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab told Sky News: “I do think we just need to make sure that in the last lap, if you like, that we are careful and we don’t lose the gains we’ve made.”
Although a third wave is still expected to wash upon our shores, the prime minister believes that the current vaccinations have built “some pretty robust fortifications” against the virus. At Targetfollow, we applaud the current efforts of our tenants at The Pantiles, PE1 and Salle Moor Hall Farm. Working closely with each shop and hospitality venue, our asset managers have created a safe transition from lockdown.