Coronavirus: How might lockdown end and what will be the ‘new normal’?

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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to announce on Sunday his plans to restart the economy and ease lockdown restrictions.

But what could everyday life be like?

When can I go shopping again?

High Street fashion chains and others closed during lockdown are waiting to hear how they might reopen.

Changing rooms could be closed and customers encouraged to shop alone, the British Retail Consortium suggests. Next says it will prioritise reopening larger, out-of-town outlets, where social distancing is easier.

Some DIY stores, meanwhile, have already reopened – but they are accepting card payments only and have shorter trading hours. And B&Q has banned under-16s.

Garden centres in England are expected to be able to open from Wednesday, while those in Wales will open from Monday. It is not yet known when they will reopen in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

But several retailers will be missing from the High Street altogether, the chairman of key-cutting company Timpson has warned.

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UK retail sales fell a record 5.1% in March, the steepest fall since the Office for National Statistics started collecting data, in 1996.

There is likely to be a bounceback – and bargains as managers try to shift stock.

But with more people working from home and going out less, it may not be as big as retailers need.

Will I be able to see my friends and family?

Not being able to meet up with family and friends is one of the toughest aspects of staying home.

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”.

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The Scottish government, meanwhile, has set out options that would allow people to leave home more often, while staying within their local area and only mixing with their own household group.

It is also looking at whether a small group of friends or relatives could meet in “a group or ‘bubble'”.

But the UK’s chief medical adviser, Chris Whitty, has warned close contact with family may pose a risk to some vulnerable groups for some time.

What will change at my place of work?

Hot-desking could become a thing of the past, according to draft government proposals to bring UK businesses out of lockdown.

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.

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The issue of how businesses can secure personal protective equipment without competing with the NHS has raised concerns.

And unions say employers must be compelled to protect staff.

What will it be like on public transport?

Even though there’s likely to be fewer people using trains, trams and buses, keeping passengers apart will be difficult.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says businesses could be asked to stagger employees’ working hours, to stop rush-hour crowds.

But one rail boss has warned social distancing of any kind would be “extraordinarily difficult” to manage, while another has said it could reduce the capacity of trains by between 70% and 90%.

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A leaked Transport for London (TfL) report says for 2m (6ft) social distancing to be maintained only 50,000 passengers could board every 15 minutes, whereas before lockdown, peak hours would see 325,000 every 15 minutes.

The Scottish government, meanwhile, has recommended people wear face coverings on public transport. Eurostar passengers are also required to cover their faces.

The government has said pop-up bike lanes, wider pavements, safer junctions, and cycle and bus-only corridors will be created in England as part of a £250m emergency fund.

When will schools and universities return?

Children in England, Scotland and Wales may be able to make a “phased return” to schools, with only certain year groups attending.

Reports suggest primary schools and pupils in Years 10 and 12 – who take key exams in 2021 – would be prioritised.

The Welsh education minister has said that schools in Wales will definitely not be returning on 1 June.

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Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, meanwhile, has unveiled a paper suggesting pupils could attend school part-time, with “a blend of in-school and at-home learning”.

Across the UK, measures to keep pupils and teachers safe could include:

  • limiting class sizes
  • groups of pupils attending on different days
  • redesigned classrooms
  • staggered break times

Meanwhile, there is uncertainty over whether students will be able to go to university in person in September or whether they will be taught partially or completely online.

What do I need to know about the coronavirus?

When can I go to the gym or play sport with friends?

The lockdown has seen swimming pools, tennis courts, gyms and many other venues closed.

When pools reopen, it is likely fewer swimmers will be let in and for less time.

Breaks might be needed so pools can be disinfected, according to the Pool Management Group.

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The Lawn Tennis Association says it is talking to the government about how matches can resume but it is “too early to speculate”.

And England Golf says it is working to find the right conditions under which players can tee off.

Meanwhile, there is no word on when gyms will reopen or how they might enforce social-distancing and hygiene rules.

And the chances of being able to play team sports in the coming weeks look slim.

Currently, groups of more than two people who do not live together are banned and you can exercise in public only alone or with members of your household.

There has been some relaxation of rules around exercising, with people in Wales able to do so more than once a day from Monday.

When can I go to the pub or visit the cinema?

Pubs, restaurants, cinemas and theatres could be among the last places to reopen.

Draft government guidance seen by BBC News says bar areas, seated areas in restaurants and cafes must remain closed even as the economy is opened up – and venues should serve takeaways only.

Last month, Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin said his chain had “for planning purposes” been assuming pubs may reopen in late June.

But deputy chief medical officer for England, Jenny Harries, has said mixing with people outside your household in a small environment such as a pub would not be a good idea.

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Meanwhile, Vue Cinemas boss Tim Richards is hopeful screens can reopen in mid-July, using social distancing measures.

But theatre producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh fears many theatres will not be able to stage musicals until next year.

Can I have a UK or foreign summer holiday?

Social distancing is a big challenge for the airports and airlines.

Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye says it is “physically impossible”.

EasyJet plans to leave middle seats empty, but Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary says this would be “idiotic”.

Air passengers may have to:

UK airlines say they have been told by the government that people arriving in the UK from any country other than the Republic of Ireland from the end of this month will have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Trade body Airlines UK says this would “effectively kill air travel”.

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Meanwhile, the government has said people should not book holidays at home or abroad until social-distancing rules are relaxed.

And Visit Britain predicts domestic UK tourism will see losses of more than £22bn in 2020.

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