Entertainment and leisure businesses around the UK are finalising their plans to reopen their doors on 1 August, as the government continues its programme of gradual reopening.
On 17 July, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that “from 1 August, we will reopen most remaining leisure settings, namely bowling, skating rinks and casinos”, and a pilot programme of indoor performances to small live audiences will begin with a view to a wider reopening in the Autumn.
After the apparent success of reopening restaurants and pubs, which did not cause a spike in coronavirus reinfections, Number 10 hopes that the next wave of reopenings of will follow the same path and allow businesses to resume trading. The government has paid the bills of millions of workers over the last three months, but hopes that as more businesses begin to reopen the economy will return to growth.
Beyond the changes to casinos and other entertainment facilities, the government plans to give employers of all forms more discretion over whether their employees should continue to work from home or return to the office from the start of next month.
Since March the government’s advice to businesses is that all employees should work from home wherever possible, but in an effort to restart the economy Number 10 believes the time is right for businesses to start getting back to normal. These changes to the official guidance will give employers more flexibility, but it remains unclear whether they will request their workers to come back to the office or whether working from home will continue to be the norm.
In his July speech, the PM said: “Instead of government telling people to work from home, we are going to give employers more discretion, and ask them to make decisions about how their staff can work safely..As we reopen our society and economy, it’s right that we give employers more discretion while continuing to ensure employees are kept safe.”
After a variety of teething problems in the first few weeks of lockdown, thousands of businesses around the UK have adapted well to the new normal. A recent survey found that nearly two thirds of people have found themselves more productive whilst working from home, and nearly half of UK workers say they plan to continue working at least partly from home once social distancing rules have been relaxed.