What can I do and what opens when COVID lockdown rules ease on Monday, April 12?

Friends drinking

Will you head down to the pub to enjoy a drink with friends in the garden? - Credit: Pixabay

Now that COVID-19 lockdown restrictions are starting to ease, many people will be wondering what can reopen at Step 2 of the government's roadmap.

The 'Rule of Six' returned to England on March 29, just in time for everyone to enjoy a bit of sunshine ahead of Easter.

Last Monday also saw the government's "Stay at Home" message replaced with "Stay Local" – and people flocked to local parks.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing on COVID-19 from Downing Street.

Step 2 of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's lockdown roadmap is due to come into force on Monday, April 12. - Credit: PA

Step 2 of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's roadmap out of coronavirus lockdown is scheduled to take effect from Monday, April 12, 2021.

From that date, pubs and hospitality will be able to serve customers outside, you can go for that long-awaited and much-needed haircut, and zoos can finally welcome back visitors outdoors.

Also, major parts of the economy will be reopening, with non-essential shops and gyms and leisure centres lifting their shutters.

Unless a specific exemption exists, these must only be attended/used in line with the wider social contact limits at this stage of the roadmap – as a single household or bubble indoors; or in a group of six people or two households outdoors. 

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Here's a guide to what you can and can't do from Monday, April 12 and what is set to reopen when we reach the next step of the government's lockdown exit strategy.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance

Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance during a media briefing on coronavirus from Downing Street's new White House-style media briefing room in Westminster, London. - Credit: PA


What shops and businesses can reopen when lockdown eases on April 12?

Non-essential retail will be allowed to reopen as part of the Step 2 relaxation of the coronavirus lockdown rules.

At the time of writing, www.gov.uk states this will include the following list of shops:

  • clothing stores and tailors
  • charity and antique shops
  • homeware and carpet stores
  • showrooms, such as for vehicles as well as kitchens and bathrooms
  • electronic goods and mobile phone shops
  • florists and plant nurseries
  • retail travel agents
  • photography stores
  • remaining auction houses and markets
  • tobacco and vape stores
  • betting shops (subject to additional COVID-secure measures, such as limiting the use of gaming machines)
  • car washes, except for automatic car washes that are already open.


Hairdressers and barbers can reopen from April 12 should Government criteria be met

Hairdressers and barbers can reopen from April 12 should Government criteria be met - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

When can I get a haircut?

For some of us, this can't come soon enough!

You will finally be able to get your hair cut and trimmed from Monday, April 12 when hairdressers and barbers can take bookings.

Personal care facilities and close contact services are set to reopen as part of the lifting of lockdown restrictions from Monday, April 12.

This will include the following businesses:

  • hair, beauty and nail salons
  • body and skin piercing services
  • tattoo studios
  • spas and massage centres (except for steam rooms and saunas)
  • holistic therapy (including acupuncture, homeopathy, and reflexology)
  • tanning salons

Can I go to the gym from April 12?

Yes. Gyms are scheduled to reopen along with other leisure facilities from Monday, April 12.

You will need to check with the respective leisure centres and venues beforehand about opening times, as prior booking will be required to manage numbers and maintain social distancing. 

Indoor sports and leisure facilities are preparing to reopen from April 12.
The list includes:

  • gyms and leisure centres
  • sports courts
  • swimming pools
  • dance studios and fitness centres
  • driving and shooting ranges
  • riding arenas
  • archery venues
  • climbing wall centres

Also allowed to reopen from April 12 will be "self-contained holiday accommodation".

This means campsites, holiday lets and cottages in which all facilities – including for sleeping, catering, bathing, and indoor lobbies and corridors for entry and exit – are restricted to use only by a single household/support bubble.


Stevenage Beer and Cider Festival.

Cheers! You will be able to go to the pub for a drink in an outdoor setting from Monday, April 12. - Credit: Danny Loo Photography

When can I go to the pub for a pint?

You can go for that cold pint down the pub again from Monday, April 12 – but it will be outdoor service only in the beer garden or outside terraces.

Outdoor areas at hospitality venues – such as cafés, restaurants, bars, pubs, social clubs, including member’s clubs – can reopen, including for takeaway alcohol. 

No indoor mixing will be allowed.

It will be table service only, but thankfully, a "substantial meal" – such as a Cornish pasty or a Scotch egg – is no longer necessary to accompany your pint.

Not all venues will be reopening on April 12 though, with some holding fire until Step 3 when indoor hospitality can be served, making it more economically viable.

Venues can also erect outside shelters. To be considered ‘outdoors’, shelters, marquees and other structures can have a roof but need to have at least 50 per cent of the area of their walls open at all times while in use.

These hospitality venues may allow customers to use toilets located inside.

At any premises serving alcohol, customers will be required to order, be served and eat/drink while seated.

So it is table service only outside for now, until the planned Step 3 of the roadmap on May 17.


A family arriving at World of Animals at Paradise Widlife Park. Picture: Paradise Wildlife Park

A family arriving at World of Animals at Paradise Wildlife Park in Hertfordshire. The zoo is set to reopen on April 12. - Credit: Paradise Wildlife Park

When can I go to the zoo?

Zoos are among the outdoor attractions that can open again to the public from Monday, April 12.

Hertfordshire's Paradise Wildlife Park has already announced it is set to reopen on that date.

Likewise, Willows Activity Farm in London Colney, St Albans, has pencilled in April 12 as the date when it will reopen its outdoor areas.

Tickets must be booked online in advance.

Operators of these businesses must take reasonable steps to ensure that bookings and admissions follow the social contact rules, and that groups do not mix within the premises.

One of the Amur tigers at Paradise Wildlife Park in Hertfordshire.

One of the Amur tigers at Paradise Wildlife Park in Hertfordshire. - Credit: Alan Davies

What outdoor attractions can open on April 12?

Drone picture of the Luna Cinema drive-in at Knebworth House in Hertfordshire.

Drone picture of the Luna Cinema drive-in at Knebworth House in Hertfordshire last year. - Credit: Luna Cinema

Outdoor attractions set to reopen from April 12 include the following:

  • adventure parks and activities
  • animal attractions, such as at zoos, safari parks and aquariums
  • drive-in events, such as for cinemas, theatres, and other performances
  • film studios
  • funfairs and fairgrounds
  • model villages
  • museums and galleries, outside only such as IWM Duxford's outdoor spaces
  • skating rinks
  • theme parks
  • trampolining parks
  • water and aqua parks

Public buildings, such as community halls and centres, and libraries can also reopen from April 12.

Businesses allowed to host childcare and supervised activities for children will be able to host these activities – including sport – for all children, regardless of circumstances.

Permitted businesses operating in otherwise closed attractions, such as a gift shop or a takeaway kiosk at a museum, may only open where they are a self-contained unit and can be accessed directly from the street.

Indoor events or gatherings outside of someone’s household or support bubble are not permitted at Step 2, even in a venue permitted to open, unless a specific exemption applies.


The government's Step 1 and Step 2 roadmap guide.

The government's Step 1 and Step 2 roadmap guide for the easing of lockdown restrictions. - Credit: Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)

How many people can attend my wedding from April 12?

As part of the Step 2 rules, weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are permitted for up to 15 people in COVID-19 secure venues that are allowed to open.

This is up from the current number of six people. Social distancing guidance applies in all such cases.

Wedding receptions can only take place outdoors in Step 2, with up to 15 people allowed for a sit down meal.

Such receptions must not take place in people’s private gardens or public outdoor spaces. They are only allowed in permitted COVID-secure outdoor venues.

As for numbers at a funeral, 30 people can attend. 


Cineworld in Ipswich

Cineworld sites are currently closed but cinemas can reopen when England reaches Step 3 of the lockdown exit roadmap. - Credit: Archant

Can I go to the cinema from April 12?

No, not yet, unless it is a drive-in cinema screening. Indoor venues are still closed.

Multiplexes, community cinemas, theatres, concert halls, and museums are among the indoor attractions that will be allowed to open again from Step 3 – at least five weeks after Step 2.

Provided there's no spike in coronavirus cases and other criteria are met between now and then, this will be no earlier than Monday, May 17.


The government's Step 3 and Step 4 roadmap guide for the easing of lockdown restrictions.

The government's Step 3 and Step 4 roadmap guide for the easing of lockdown restrictions. - Credit: Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)

So what can reopen in Step 3 from May 17?

If all goes to plan with lockdown easing up to this point, Step 3 will take place no earlier than Monday, May 17.

Indoor areas of hospitality venues will be allowed to reopen.

That means pubs and restaurants can finally welcome drinkers and diners indoors – seated, of course.

As outdoors, table service will be required.

The Odeon cinema at The Galleria in Hatfield is currently closed.

The Odeon cinema at The Galleria in Hatfield is currently closed. Cinemas will not be allowed to reopen until May 17 at the earliest as part of the government's lockdown roadmap. - Credit: Alan Davies

Indoor entertainment and visitor attractions can also reopen from May 17.
According www.gov.uk, this will include:

  • cinemas
  • theatres
  • concert halls
  • museums and galleries
  • adventure playgrounds and activities
  • amusement arcades and adult gaming centres
  • bingo halls
  • casinos
  • bowling alleys
  • skating rinks
  • games, recreation and entertainment venues such as escape rooms and laser quest
  • play areas (including soft play centres and inflatable parks)
  • model villages
  • snooker and pool halls
  • trampolining parks
  • water and aqua parks
  • indoor visitor attractions at theme parks and film studios
  • indoor attractions at zoos, safari parks, aquariums and other animal attractions
  • indoor attractions at botanical gardens, greenhouses and biomes
  • indoor attractions at sculpture parks
  • indoor attractions at landmarks including observation wheels or viewing platforms
  • indoor attractions at stately or historic homes, castles, or other heritage sites
  • conference centres and exhibition halls, including for the purposes of business events (subject to the capacity limits set out below)
  • Indoor events and remaining outdoor events, such as elite sports, business events, cinemas and live performance events will also be permitted. Attendance at these events will be restricted to 50 per cent of capacity up to 1,000 people for indoor events, and 50 per cent of capacity up to 4,000 people for outdoor events.
  • For outdoor events taking place in venues with seated capacity of over 16,000, event organisers may apply a 25 per cent capacity cap, up to a maximum of 10,000 seated people.

Remaining holiday accommodation can also reopen, as can saunas and steam rooms at gyms and leisure centres.

Indoor team sport and group exercise classes can return.


PM Boris Johnson during a media briefing on coronavirus on Monday, March 29, 2021, when lockdown rules were relaxed.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing on coronavirus from Downing Street's new media briefing room on Monday, March 29, 2021, when lockdown rules were relaxed. - Credit: PA

What is Step 4?

In Step 4 – which will take place from no earlier than June 21 – remaining restrictions on businesses will be lifted, meaning nightclubs can open after being closed for more than a year. 

Subject to the latest data, restrictions on social contact and large events will also be lifted. 

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