If you’re hankering after a hot drink inside a café or a catch-up with friends at the pub without shivering in a beer garden, then today is the day.
Phase three of the road map out of coronavirus restrictions has come into force which means you can now enjoy a pint or latte indoors or arrange a night at the movies as cinemas also re-open.
Although gyms welcomed back customers in phase two last month, fitness fanatics will also be able to start attending group classes again from today so it’s time to dust off that yoga mat or get ready for some circuit training.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a week ago that the country was still on the right path out of lockdown so confirmed the next phase of the masterplan could go ahead as proposed.
This adds to the major changes seen on April 12 when beauty salons, non-essential retail and other sectors sprung back into life.
However, office and business districts such as Colmore Row in Birmingham may still seem a little lighter on numbers as office staff are being recommended to carry on working from home whenever possible.
This is expected to be lifted on June 21 assuming the Government is happy with the rates of infections over the coming weeks.
What are the latest rules and where can people go? Phase three of lockdown easing
– Indoor hospitality venues such as restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes can reopen
– The ‘rule of six or two households’ applies for meet ups indoors and also overnight stays
– Most restrictions on meeting others outdoors are lifted although gatherings of over 30 people remain illegal
– Indoor entertainment and attractions such as cinemas, bowling alleys, casinos, amusement arcades, museums and children’s indoor play areas will be permitted to open with covid-secure measures
– People can also attend indoor and outdoor events, such as concerts, shows and sport, but attendance will be capped
– Organised indoor sport can take place, including gym classes, but this must be organised by a business, charity or public body
– All holiday accommodation such as hotels and B&Bs can open for groups of up to six or two households
– Funeral attendance will no longer be limited to 30 people but will be determined by how many people the covid-secure venue can safely accommodate
– Limits at weddings, wakes and other commemorative events will be increased to 30 people
What’s happening in the West Midlands?
Indoor dining and cinema reopens at The Potteries Centre
Popular restaurants including Nando’s, Chiquito, The Burger Priest and Bon Pan Asian have reopened at The Hive at Stoke-on-Trent’s biggest shopping centre, The Potteries.
Cineworld in both Stoke and Birmingham is due to reopen from Wednesday with showings including Mortal Kombat, Peter Rabbit 2, Cruella and The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It.
As safety precautions are still in place, shoppers will still be required to wear face-coverings, pre-book for restaurants, use contactless payments and hand sanitiser.
Potteries general manager Amy Whittaker said: “The latest phase of the government roadmap out of lockdown marks a really exciting step for what is hopefully the end of what has been an extremely difficult year.”
Stonegate ready to welcome back customers
Seventeen pubs in the West Midlands owned and managed by Stonegate are re-opening their doors.
Fresh measures are in place to protect staff and customers with external signage setting out the safety measures in place along with full table service and contactless payment.
Around 45 per cent of its managed pubs re-opened last month for outside drinking and dining.
This latest group includes Be At One, Walkabout and Brasshouse in Birmingham city centre, The Sandwell in West Bromwich and The Penny Black and Phoenix, both in Tamworth.
Waterworld given major facelift
Tropical aqua park Waterworld has been given a major makeover ready for its grand reopening today.
Floors have been re-tiled, rides have been repainted and a number of other improvements made at the Stoke-on-Trent attraction.
Owner Mo Chaudry said: “The place looks like new and we can’t wait to welcome people back inside so they can see what we’ve been doing behind the scenes during lockdown. We have spent more than 100 days working on site improvements.
“We have worked tirelessly to introduce a host of new systems which ensure that we can continue to offer truly memorable experiences without compromising the safety and wellbeing of guests or staff.”
Indoor dining returns to Merry Hill
As with Potteries, Merry Hill in Dudley has confirmed the return of indoor dining, including at its food court Eat Central where 12 separate operators are based.
Marketing manager Duncan Burns said: “It’s been a long time since friends and family have been able to meet up inside so it will be great to see our shoppers catch up and enjoy dining in our restaurants and cafés as restrictions ease further.”
New Thai restaurant
A new Asian venue called Rosa’s Thai Cafe is opening in Birmingham tomorrow.
It is the latest addition to the £700 million Paradise regeneration scheme and will be housed in Two Chamberlain Square, the second office building to be completed at the site.
Rosa’s Thai Cafe was originally launched in 2008 and now has sites across the country. This latest venue has space for 80 covers and will be open seven days a week.
Coleen Nolan to reopen bingo hall
Singer and Loose Women star Coleen Nolan is officially reopening Buzz Bingo in Stoke-on-Trent today.
She is also hosting a special game at the venue which is handing out free hot drinks and breakfast rolls to customers.
Chief retail officer Peter Brigden said: “Customer safety is always our first and foremost priority.
“As the majority of our customers haven’t been able to properly visit some of our clubs for over a year, we want them to feel completely safe now that it’s possible for them to do so.
“We’re delighted to celebrate their return with a free cuppa and a breakfast roll so they can reunite with friends and have a good chinwag before getting stuck into a game of bingo.”
Brace of new hotels launch
A pair of new hotels are launching today.
In Bromsgrove town centre, a 43-bedroom Ibis Budget has opened in Finstall Road in the former Travelodge site.
Lionel Benjamin, co-founder of Ago Hotels which will operate the site, said: “Today is a huge day for the hospitality industry which has been one of the worst hit sectors during the covid pandemic.
“Now with the lifting of restrictions, we are so pleased to finally be opening the doors of the new ibis budget Bromsgrove.”
Also launching today is the Domo Boutique Hotel in Oldbury.
It has opened in a historic Georgian building dating back 150 years following a refurbishment programme and also has a café called The Elham.
General Manager Santa Bojarinova said: “We are thrilled to be opening our first hotel and we hope guests really love the design elements of the hotel.”