April 12: Your guide to what can open from Monday when COVID lockdown rules ease

Pubs can welcome back customers to outdoor areas from April 12.

Pubs can welcome back customers to outdoor areas from April 12. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

COVID-19 lockdown restrictions ease on Monday, April 12, 2021. So what can open and what can you do from Monday?

You will be able to go to the pub for a drink (outdoors only though), finally get your hair cut after months without a trip to the barbers or hairdressers, and pop to the gym for some individual exercise.

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

Non-essential shops can reopen at Step 2 of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's roadmap out of coronavirus lockdown, with retailers in St Albans and Harpenden in Hertfordshire looking forward to welcoming back customers into their stores.

Most outdoor attractions including zoos will be able to reopen, meaning families can visit ZSL Whipsnade from April 12. You will have to pre-book tickets to Whipsnade and numbers are being limited each day, so booking your slot early is advised.

Willows Activity Farm in London Colney is another family attraction set to reopen its outdoor areas on Monday, April 12th. You must pre-book.

Drive-in events, such as cinemas and concerts, can take place, but indoor cinemas are still closed until May. Theme parks can open though.

Personal care premises such as hairdressers, beauty and nail salons, and indoor leisure facilities such as gyms can open their doors – but not saunas and steam rooms, which are due to open at Step 3. 

Westminster Lodge swimming pool in St Albans. Picture: Kim Sweet

Westminster Lodge swimming pool in St Albans. Picture: Kim Sweet - Credit: Archant

Westminster Lodge in St Albans will be reopening its multi-use gym and swimming pool from April 12, with bookings being taken.

However, indoor team sport and group fitness classes up and down the country will not return until May 17.

Hospitality venues will be able to open for outdoor service, with no requirement for a substantial meal to be served alongside alcohol, and there will be no curfew. The requirement to eat and drink while seated will remain though.


How the rules will change on April 12th

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Some of the government's coronavirus rules on what you can and cannot do will change on April 12. 

As restrictions ease, from Monday: 

  • Non-essential retail will be able to reopen.
  • Personal care premises such as hairdressers and nail salons will be able to reopen.
  • Public buildings such as libraries and community centres will be able to reopen.
  • Outdoor hospitality venues – pubs and restaurants – will be able to reopen, with table service only and al fresco dining.
  • Most outdoor attractions including zoos, theme parks, and drive-in performances, such as drive-in cinemas and concerts, will be able to open.
  • Some smaller outdoor events such as fetes, literary fairs, and fairgrounds will be able to take place.
  • Indoor leisure and sports facilities will be able to reopen for individual exercise, or exercise with your household or support bubble.
  • All childcare and supervised activities will be allowed indoors (as well as outdoors) for all children.
  • Parent and child groups can take place indoors, as well as outdoors, for up to 15 people. Children under 5 will not be counted in this number.
  • Weddings, civil partnership ceremonies, wakes and other commemorative events will be able to take place for up to 15 people. Anyone working is not included in this limit.
  • Wedding receptions can also take place for up to 15 people, but must take place outdoors, not including private gardens.
  • Self-contained accommodation will be able to open for overnight stays in England with your household or support bubble.
  • You should continue to 'stay local' and minimise the amount that you travel where possible.
  • Care home residents will be able to nominate two named individuals for regular indoor visits, following a rapid lateral flow test.

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. 


What shops and businesses can reopen from April 12?

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

According to www.gov.uk, this will include but not be limited to 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.

Personal care facilities and close contact services will reopen. So you can get a haircut from April 12.

Business that can reopen include:

  • 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 allowed to reopen, along with other leisure facilities, from Monday, April 12. Check availability though, and pre-booking will be necessary to control numbers.

Indoor sports and leisure facilities set to reopen include swimming pools, sports courts, fitness centres, climbing wall centres, shooting ranges, archery venues and riding centres.


You best bring a coat with you if you are going to a pub garden on April 12

Pub beer gardens can reopen from April 12 but it will be table service only and no indoor drinking just yet. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

When can I go to the pub for a pint?

Yes! You can go for that cold pint down the pub again from Monday, April 12 – but it will be outdoor service only.

There's a variety of beer gardens to choose from in the St Albans district.

Outdoor areas at hospitality venues – such as cafés, restaurants, bars, and pubs – can reopen. No indoor mixing will be allowed, although indoor toilets can still be used.

Hospitality businesses opening will be running table service only, but a "substantial meal" – such as a Scotch egg or Cornish pasty – is no longer necessary with your pint.

Step 3 of the roadmap from May 17 is when indoor hospitality is due to start again and more pubs and restaurants will be opening their doors to customers.


What can open in Step 3 from May 17th? 

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.

As long as there's no spike in coronavirus cases and other criteria set out by the government are met, this will be on Monday, May 17.

If all goes to plan, indoor areas of hospitality venues will be allowed to reopen. That means pubs and restaurants can finally welcome drinkers and diners indoors. As outdoors, table service will be required.

Indoor entertainment and visitor attractions are also set to reopen from May 17.

According www.gov.uk, this will include the following:

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


For more on COVID-19 coronavirus restrictions and how the rules will change on April 12, visit www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-19-coronavirus-restrictions-what-you-can-and-cannot-do#how-the-rules-will-change-on-12-april


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