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UPDATED: COVID-19 social distancing rules to be eased in England from July 4

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that a “one metre plus” social distancing policy will be introduced from July 4 as part of a series of COVID-19 legislation easing measures.

In an address this lunch time, the Prime Minister said that pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers could all open from that date and said that different households will also be able to meet indoors – even staying overnight at one another’s homes – under the new rules.

Johnson did say, however, that a requirement to remain at a distance of one metre or more would remain in place as he urged members of the public to “use their common sense”.

The news will be good news for the hospitality sector and could also open up the possibility of accompanied test drives for car retailers.

Vertu Motors chief executive Robert Forrester told BBC Breakfast before June 1's official re-opening of England's car showrooms that the sector would “trust customers” to take unaccompanied test drives as showroom retailing gets back underway.

However, many automotive retailers have been unable to return to a test drive offering for customers since March 24’s COVID-19 lockdown due to high insurance premiums for unaccompanied test drives or apprehension about allowing members of the public take a car for a drive alone.

Steve Freeman, partner and national motor head at MHA Macintyre Hudson, said: "I think that the change in the social distancing rules to '1 metre-plus' is a welcome boost to dealers as it will enable accompanied test drives to take place in conjunction with face masks for sales staff.

"I know a number of my dealer network are already procuring reusable protective face masks for their sales staff in preparation for this."

In his lockdown easing announcement the Prime Minister said people should still remain two metres apart where possible.

He also said that people will be encouraged to use "mitigation" – including wearing face coverings and not sitting face-to-face – when within two metres of one another.

While Johnson continues to lead England into an easing of COVID-19 lockdown measures, retailers in Scotland are still awaiting the green light to re-open their doors, putting their recovery almost a month behind that of their counterparts south of the border.

The National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) said today (June 23) that the Scottish Government’s decision to postpone the re-opening of car showrooms will place jobs under “unnecessary economic risk.

In a letter to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP the NFDA once again urged Ministers to consider an early exemption for the sector following the successful June 1 reopening of showrooms in England, followed by a June 8 re-opening in Northern Ireland and yesterday’s (June 22) re-start for Welsh businesses.

In his address to the House of Commons this week, the Prime Minister said: "The administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland hold responsibility for their own lockdown restrictions and they will respond to the united view of the Chief Medical Officers at their own pace, based on their own judgement, but all parts of the UK are now travelling in the same direction and we will continue to work together to ensure that everyone in our country gets the support they need.

"Thanks to our progress, we can now go further and safely ease the lockdown in England."

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