I’m sure wherever in the world you may be reading this from, life for you in the last few months has looked very different. With the risk of coronavirus still threatening people across the world, London is no different and still a long way away from being anywhere close to “normal”. With that being said, the country is slowly opening up and restrictions are gradually easing. So I wanted to put together a post on the various rules and adjustments that have been put in place to help anyone living in London.
Please note that the below information is accurate at time of publishing. However as the situation is constantly changing, the below information may not be up to date at time of reading. Please refer to official .gov website for the latest information for the UK.
1. Face Coverings are Mandatory on Public Transport and in Shops
As of 15 June 2020, the government announced that all people travelling on public transport HAVE to wear a mask or face covering. There are of course, some exceptions to this rule. For example those that are unable to wear them due to a health condition or children under the age of 11. Those without face coverings will not be allowed to travel and could be fined up to £100.
Just yesterday, they also announced that face masks/coverings will now also be compulsory when shopping from the 24 July. This is somewhat of a revelation for the UK, as we were so behind compared to other countries who were a lot quicker to embrace making face masks mandatory in public.
London after lockdown will definitely look different to how it was before. I think we’ll definitely start to see more people embrace face masks and/or coverings – regardless of whether it is mandatory or not.
2. People Must Continue to Practice Social Distancing
As there is still a significant risk of transmitting and/or catching coronavirus, the official advice is to maintain appropriate distance to other people. In the UK this is still considered 2 metres where possible, or at the very least 1 metre.
Across London and the UK, you will see many signs and notices alerting people to stay 2 metres apart (where possible). This is now prominent in most areas and I’ve even seen it painted on the pavements in my local area.
3. Travel is Allowed. Although Some Restrictions Apply
Travel has been one of the biggest restrictions during this time. And now, we have seen that there is some easing on rules on travel abroad. Whilst travel is mostly permitted, you may still have to quarantine upon returning to the UK. This makes it difficult for people to plan holidays if they have to consider a further 2 weeks off work to isolate upon return. Personally, this has put me off travelling outside of the UK for the remainder of the year. And I suspect the travel industry will be struggling for the foreseeable future until things return to normal around the world.
To see which countries you can travel to where you may not need to isolate when you return, see the official list published here.
4. Non-essential Shops are Allowed to Reopen
In the last few weeks the government has announced that non-essential shops can open, although still with social distancing measures in place. This has also recently been updated to include restaurants, pubs/bars and even hairdressers. I’ve been out and about during this time, and have seen most stores setup new layouts to encourage one-way systems and allow customers to keep within 2 metres distance of other shoppers.
The more difficult scenarios have been for restaurants, pubs and bars. In some cases you have to book ahead to ensure you are able to enter. But where you can do walk-ins, max capacity restrictions apply and limited to the number of tables in the venue. You also have to ensure you sanitise before entering (most venues have stations set up at entry) and also make sure you are seated when drinking/dining. Most places are also limited to table service, so no ordering from the bar is allowed for now.
5. Socialising Outside of Your Household
You are now allowed to meet people outside of your household. But this should be limited to outdoors and a maximum of 6 people if from different households. For me personally, this is the most confusing rule. The government also talk about “support bubbles” and being able to meet more than 6 people if they are from different households. But it doesn’t make that much sense to me, so I have simply limited interactions to only close family and friends. And no more than 6 in a single meeting. You can read the guidelines for yourself here.
No one knows what the “new normal” is going to look like. But London life after lockdown will definitely look a lot different to how it was before. How have you been coping during this time?
For the full list of what you can and can’t do, please refer to the official government website.