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Government relaxes lockdown restrictions in England as pilot scheme for events set to continue

The UK government has confirmed a relaxation of lockdown restrictions in England, paving the way for business and sport pilot events to resume.

Exact details of the pilot business events have not been publicly revealed.

In an announcement on 13 August prime minister Boris Johnson said that the government “will not hesitate to put on the brakes if required, or to continue to implement local measures to help to control the spread of the virus”.

The announcement said that pilots would take place at conference venues “ahead of the expected resumption of business events from 1 October at the earliest”.

The piloting of a small number of sporting events to test the safe return of spectators will also resume, starting with the final of the World Snooker Championship at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre over the weekend of 15/16 August.

Other parts of the economy are also able to reopen from 15 August, including indoor theatre, music and performance venues provided they have socially distanced audiences. Wedding receptions for up to 30 people are also permitted.

Casinos, bowling alleys, skating rinks and soft play centres will be allowed to reopen. Nightclubs, dance halls and discotheques are among venues that must remain closed. There will also be a clampdown on illegal gatherings of more than 30 people, including spot fines of up to £10,000 (US$13.059)

The prime minister said that plans to open up more of the economy would “allow more people to return to work and the public to get back to more of the things they have missed”.

The new guidance will not apply in areas where local lockdown measures are in place, the government noted. Lockdown restrictions were introduced last week in Preston and in 18 other areas to control outbreaks of coronavirus.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will assess their own timings for the easing of restrictions, as devolved administrations have the power to set their own timings for the easing of restrictions.