There will be some big changes to lockdown regulations coming into place from this weekend, including the reopening of shops and outdoor attractions.
Today, Boris Johnson announced that single households in England – people living alone and most single parents – can form a support bubble with another household from this Saturday.
Then from Monday, June 15th, non-essential shops, zoos, safari parks and drive-in cinemas can open, as long as businesses can meet social distancing and other safety measures.
Here’s the big changes coming to lockdown in England:
1. Zoos & Safari parks can reopen
Outdoor attractions such as zoos, safari parks and drive-in cinemas have been given the green light to open their doors from June 15th.
The attractions will have to introduce social distancing measures, turn cafes into takeaways and keep indoor exhibitions such as reptile houses closed.
2. All non-essential shops will reopen
Non-essential shops including clothing shops and car showrooms will be allowed to reopen if they can comply with social distancing rules. Other non-essential retail shops include: shoe, toy, furniture, book and electronic shops, tailors, auction houses, photography studios, indoor markets and loads more.
3. Places of worship can open for private prayer
Places of worships can open for private prayer from June 15th. Worship groups, weddings and other services are not yet permitted. Communal prayer is also not yet permitted until July 4th at the earliest.
4. Wearing a face covering is compulsory on public transport
From June 15th, anyone using public transport must wear face coverings. All hospital visitors and outpatients must also do the same. Face coverings can be scarves, bandannas or homemade face masks, but medical face masks are limited to hospital staff.
The government has advised to wash face coverings after every use, and to wear them in any other situation where social distancing cannot be successfully maintained.
5. Secondary schools can start to reopen
Secondary schools and colleges in England can now provide face-to-face support to Year 10 and Year 12 pupils, as well as 16-19-year-olds who are set to take their exams next year.
Only a quarter of pupils will be able to attend at any one time. GCSE and A-Levels exams are expected to go ahead as normal next year.
6. Certain people can form social ‘bubbles’
To combat loneliness, from Saturday single households in England – people living alone and most single parents – can form a support bubble with another household, and can visit and stay overnight at each others houses.
Essentially, the two households will form a ‘bubble’ and will be able to act like they live together, and not have to follow two-metre distancing. You’ll only be able to choose one household to form the bubble with.
The Prime Minister said tonight: “There are too many people, particularly those who live by themselves who are lonely and struggling with being unable to see friends and family.
“From this weekend we will allow single adult households, living alone, or single parents with children under 18, to form a support bubble with one other household.”
Single people includes anyone who lives alone, as well as single mums or dads with any number of children under 18.
Unfortunately, anyone who is shielding will not be able to form a support bubble at this point.
B&M announces plans to open 45 new stores
Who else is excited for this?
We’ve got some good news for bargain hunters, as discount retailer B&M is set to open up to 45 new stores in the UK.
The company has announced that it plans to open more stores than expected this year, after its sales and profit jumped during the pandemic.
B&M kept most of its stores open during lockdown while some rivals shut their doors, with the demand for bargains rising as money became tight.
As a result, it expects to open between 40 and 45 new stores before the end of the financial year – with most opening towards the end of this period – although details of where they’ll be located are unclear at the moment.
Simon Arora, the chief executive of the retailer, said: “Our business model is proving well-attuned to the evolving needs of customers, given our combination of everyday value across a broad range of product categories being sold at convenient out-of-town locations.
“Our people have risen to the many challenges posed by the Covid-19 crisis, not least in serving our customers through a period of high demand, keeping our shelves filled, providing a clean and safe shopping environment, as well as sourcing higher volumes than we had planned.”
B&M was given permission to keep its stores open while others were forced to shut during the summer lockdown as it also sells food and DIY products.
Amisha Chohan, an equity research analyst at Quilter Cheviot, added: “B&M announced another positive trading update this morning, proving it is firing on all cylinders in both the UK and France.
“The retailer is also winning market share and has attracted a new, middle class, customer base – who are beginning to shop with them regularly.
“We believe B&M will continue to outperform peers as consumers become much more money conscious.”
Are you excited for more B&Ms?
Parrots removed from wildlife park after they taught each other to swear at customers
This is hilarious…
Five African grey parrots who were adopted by Lincolnshire Wildlife Park taught each other to swear in isolation.
The group of parrots at the zoo have now had to be put back into isolation to stop them from swearing at customers.
Adopted together on August 15th, they shared a room at Lincolnshire Wildlife Park but it turns out they’ve been up to no good in lockdown.
Although staff at the park have found it hilarious and enjoyed watching the parrots, swift action has had to be taken when they started cursing at customers.
CEO of the park, Steve Nichols said the parrots have been put in a ‘time out’, although he did confirm this isn’t the first time they’ve had swearing parrots.
He told LincolnshireLive: “Every now and then you’ll get one that swears and it’s always funny. We always find it very comical when they do swear at you.”
He added: “The more they swear the more you usually laugh which then triggers them to swear again.”
The room full of swearing birds, the chief said. was similar to ‘an old working men’s club scenario’.
Within 20 minutes of being in front of customers, the birds were swearing at them.
Mr Nichols confirmed that it was actually just a funny situation, explaining: “We found it highly amusing and the customers were fine – they were no problem at all.
“But we worried because we had a weekend coming up and children coming.”
The plan for the birds now is to release them separately so they can’t ‘encourage’ each other. Everyone at the park who has been working hard throughout the pandemic has enjoyed the laughs from the mischievous parrots.
“It has been a real rough year, but we are the eternal optimists and we have no option. We have to keep moving forward,” said Mr Nichols.
The parrots have both been good for business.
Mr Nichols explained: “It is quite an unusual place where you are walking around and people are swearing at aviaries trying to get a parrot to swear back at them.”
Government ‘preparing a total social lockdown plan’ for the North of England
Pubs and restaurants could be forced to close for a fortnight as part of a ‘total social lockdown’ plan.
The emergency plan is currently being considered by the government following spikes in the number of cases across the North of England.
In Greater Manchester, each borough is currently at ‘Red Alert’ with the infection rate in Bolton one of the highest in the country (235.1 cases per 100,000 people).
As things stand, in Greater Manchester people cannot visit friends and family in their homes or gardens and cannot socialise with people outside of their household or bubble in any public place.
These rules could now be rolled out across the North.
The Times reports that a ‘social lockdown’ was presented as one of the options by the Covid-19 strategy committee, the week before new restrictions were imposed.
The emergency plans have been drawn up after local restrictions put in place in areas such as Greater Manchester failed to reverse the surge in infections.
Under these proposed plans, schools, shops, factories and offices where staff cannot work from home will remain open.
It would also see meeting other people socially in any indoor location banned, as well as pubs and restaurants being ordered to close for two weeks.
London may also face these same restrictions, if cases continue to rise in the capital.
From today, every person in England is required to self-isolate by law if they test positive for Covid-19 or are contacted by the NHS Track and Trace service.
Those who fail to do so risk fines starting at £1,000 that can reach £10,000.
The number of people who have tested positive (infection rate) in Manchester now stands at 201 per 100,000. An additional 1,000 new confirmed cases were recorded over the week leading to September 24th.