Tuesday, 20 Oct 2020

What will gyms, hairdressers and pubs look like under the 'new normal'?

In just a few weeks time, pubs, bars, cafes, restaurants, hairdressers, hotels and museums in England will be allowed to reopen in a bid to get the economy moving again.

Announcing the relaxation of restrictions yesterday, Boris Johnson hailed the end of a ‘national hibernation’, saying the country was finally on the path back to normality after more than three months in lockdown.

However, that does not mean things will return to how they were before anyone had ever heard of coronavirus.

Social distancing is still required (though it has been cut from two metres to ‘one metre plus’) and sectors that are reopening have to follow strict guidelines to ensure their companies are ‘Covid secure’.

Here, we take a look at how vastly different pubs, hairdressers and other businesses could look when they reopen on July 4.

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What will the ‘new normal’ look like from July 4?

Distancing and households

Boris Johnson confirmed the two-metre social distancing rule will be cut from July 4th, with people asked to follow a new ‘one metre plus’ concept.

One metre plus means that in circumstances where two metres cannot be kept, there should be other mitigating factors, including wearing a face mask on public transport, hand washing, screens, limiting time with people and being outdoors. 

The changes also allow families to be reunited as households are allowed to mix indoors – though people will still need to wait before giving loved ones a hug.

Two households are able to spend time with each other indoors, including staying the night, but they should remain physically distant.

Pubs & bars

Supermarket-style queues, perspex screens at the bar and signing in on arrival will be some changes greeting customers eager to enjoy their first proper pint since lockdown.

Under official guidance on making pubs ‘Covid-secure’, customers must give their name and contact details to staff so they can be tracked down if someone at the pub later develops coronavirus symptoms.

The guidance also recommends switching to table service wherever possible to avoid people congregating at the bar, with staff told to serve drinks by holding the bottom of the glass to reduce the risk of virus transmission on surfaces.

Tables will have to be spaced one metre apart, meaning places will run at lower capacity than usual.

Several pub chains have said they will be operating a pre-booking system to control customer numbers, meaning you’ll have to plan your bar trips rather than the spontaneous visits of pre-lockdown. 

Wetherspoon and Greene King have said customers will be encouraged to use phone apps to order and pay for drinks, while establishments could install screens, hand sanitiser stations and even one-way systems to manage queues. 

The government has not yet said whether there will be a limit on the number of drinks one person can buy, though this idea has previously been floated.

The guidelines say businesses should call the police if people refuse to stick to social distancing.


Restaurants will have to follow much of the same rules as pubs, including recording customer contact details and seating groups from different households at different tables.

Tables can be closer than two metres apart, but only if customers from different households are facing away from one another.

Some restaurants could introduce apps that allow customers to order remotely, while others will use disposable paper menus and may reduce service to prevent crowding in kitchens.

Restaurants will have to install screens, sanitisers and implement one-way systems to manage customer queues and meet guidelines.  Some have said they will introduce contactless payments only.


Major cinema companies have confirmed they will reopen in July, including Cineworld, Curzon, Odeon, Vue, Showcase and Everyman.

Picturehouse, Cineworld and Showcase say film screenings will have staggered start and end times so fewer customers are entering and leaving at the same time.

It is likely fewer films will be shown to prevent large crowds and to allow for social distancing to be maintained. Families and friends who book together will be allowed to sit with each other at screenings but seats will be kept free between different bookings.

People will be encouraged to book seats online to reduce contact with staff and prevent overcrowding in the foyer.

Both Cineworld and Picturehouse had said cafes and bars inside their cinemas will remain closed when they reopen but that some snacks and drinks will be available to buy. That may change now that cafes have been given the green light to reopen.

As for ‘pic n mix’, Chief executive of UK Cinema Association Phil Clapp told Time Out that it ‘ain’t going to happen’  due to the risk that self-service could spread coronavirus.

 Showcase says it has installed a new air purifying system and will use new anti-viral fogging machines to help eliminate airborne viruses between screenings.


Hairdressers and barbers will be asked to wear face masks and visors to decrease the risk of the infection spreading when they get back to work on July 4th.

All equipment, including scissors and combs, must be disinfected after every customer. 

This may lead to slower services, but refreshments and magazines to keep customers busy while they wait will be banned. Some salons may require customers to wear facial coverings and payments must be contactless.

Customers could be advised not to take coats or jackets into salons if the weather is good, because the virus can remain on fabrics for days.

Conversations and small talk with clients will also be ‘kept to a minimum’, to reduce the chances of cough droplets transferring through the air.

Another obstacle to overcome will be the huge demand for a haircut, as salons have been told to operate at 50 % of full capacity to avoid overcrowding. 

Salon owner Katya Davies, who runs four Myla and Davis hairdressers in south London, told the BBC she has a waiting list of more than 2000 people.


Indoor gyms, spas and swimming pools are among the list of businesses that will remain closed from July 4.

This has been heavily criticised by CEO of David Lloyd Glenn Earlam, who said 80% of his clubs have been prepping to reopen for July 4, with furloughed staff being brought back and social distancing measures put in place.

PureGym also said it was ready to reopen and released a video of what it would look like under the ‘new normal’.

One of the main measures in place will be an extended cleaning routine from staff, as well as added cleaning stations so people can make sure stations are sanitised before and after use. There will also be stickers showing how far away you should stand from other gym-goers, with one-way systems in place in certain locations.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said he hoped indoor gyms could open later in July. The risk of coronavirus transmission outdoors is thought to be much lower than indoors, meaning outdoors gyms and play areas can reopen from July 4th.

It is likely playground and outdoor gym equipment will have to be disinfected regularly and people will be required to stay at least one metre apart.


Many museums have not confirmed when they will reopen.

Directors of the Museums Association, Sharon Heal, said visitors should expect a different experience when they do return.

She said: ‘Where they can, museums are planning measures such as one-way systems and timed entry, and implementing strict health and safety measures in line with Government guidance.

‘For those museums that do reopen next month, the experience for visitors will be different – cafes, interactives and play areas might not be open, but the welcome from front of house staff will be as warm as ever.’


Boris Johnson has also given the green light for Staycations to go ahead, with hotels, campsites and holiday cottages permitted to reopen as long as they comply with ‘Covid secure’ guidelines. 

These guidelines include regular deep-cleaning of rooms and staff members required to wear facemasks when greeting guests.  

However, popular features such as hotel mini-bars and breakfast buffets will not be allowed.

In addition, no more than two households can go away together at a time.

Places of worship

Places of worship have been open for private prayer since June 13 but the changes mean mass gatherings are allowed as long as the building’s staff follow guidance on how to control the virus.

Weddings and baptisms will be allowed, though guests will be limited to 30.

Churches, mosques, synagogues and temples will be required to be regularly cleaned and provide facilities like hand sanitiser stations. 

Singing will also be banned, to stop the potential spread of the virus through air droplets.  

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