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Kent reacts to businesses, pubs and restaurants opening in July, as Boris Johnson announces easing of 2m rule

Lockdown is being eased next month, after the Prime Minister today announced a relaxing of the two-metre rule.

Under the changes from July 4 indoor gatherings involving two households will be allowed and pubs and restaurants among other businesses will be able to reopen.

Jamie Clark, co-owner of The Dead Pigeon in Rochester, reacted to the news

The two-metre rule will be eased, replaced with a β€œone-metre plus” measure, with the protection offered by the physical distance enhanced by other measures such as the use of face coverings, increased hygiene or layout changes in premises.

But while some businesses are celebrating the news, others have been left frustrated with the government's new announcement.

Jay Atkins, owner of Core The Gym in Maidstone, had been hoping to reopen on July 4, and has been working hard rearranging his premises to adhere to social distancing measures and keep customers safe.

Despite this, Boris Johnson announced that indoor gyms would not be included in the businesses given the go ahead to open early July.

Jay Atkins, owner of Core Gym in Maidstone, has been left frustrated by the announcement
Jay Atkins, owner of Core Gym in Maidstone, has been left frustrated by the announcement

Jay said: "I've got no words, I'm absolutely baffled.

"The lengths that we've gone to to reopen - we've literally restructured that whole environment.

"And we aren't even being given guidelines, and we've go members' expectations to manage, they're looking to us for answers and we simply don't have them."

Jay believes gyms should be able to open along with other businesses like pubs and restaurants, and said remaining closed could have a knock-on effect on people's mental health.

He said: "A lot of people manage their mental health through exercise, and we offer a fantastic venue for that."

The Prime Minister gave the go ahead for outdoor gyms to open from July 4.

Elsewhere in the county, landlords reacted to the news that pubs would be able to open, providing they adhere to the measures set out by the government.

The Admiral's Arm, a micropub in Queenborough, Sheppey, took to Twitter to revel in the announcement.

The tweet read: "Pleased to hear the Prime Minister's announcement that pubs can reopen on 4th July - watch this space for more information."

Though pubs seem to be the top of many people's lists for their first place to visit, others have more pressing worries.

Christian Brown, from Ashford, tweeted: "Not even that fussed about pubs, just want my haircut!"

Luckily for Christian, barbers and hair salons have also been given the greenlight to open July 4.

Lea Walters, owner of Stone Hairdressing in West Malling and Canterbury, ha been preparing to provisionally open both salons in July.

She said: "It's fantastic news - we're so over the moon we can open and get our bookings in, and we're all prepared and ready."

"We've already opened the phone lines today and doing our best getting our priority customers booked in, then general booking will open Friday."

The hairdressing business has two premises in the county
The hairdressing business has two premises in the county

Lea and her team will be operating a traffic light sticker system to keep track of what needs cleaning inside the premises when customers are coming in for their appointments.

Whilst many business owners are looking forward to getting back to work, some people are wondering what the effect of the Prime Minister's announcement might have on how people adhere to social distancing.

Charlie Phillips, from Folkestone, tweeted: "So much has been pre-briefed on Johnson's speech to parliament that of course it's not a surprise, but listening to it, it feels like people will only interpret it as being the effective end of lockdown and social distancing apart from what'll feel like a few random exclusions."

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