'We have to be optimistic': London businesses get ready to reopen on May 17

Boris Johnson confirms lockdown easing can go ahead in England next week

Emma Castaldo is making final preparations for her hotel's reopening after weeks of being closed due to coronavirus restrictions.

For the general manager of the Bermondsey Square Hotel in south London, getting back to business is a cause for celebration but she says she is not expecting an immediate return to normality.

International guests, who make up a significant portion of the hotel's business, remain elusive as restrictions and uncertainty make them reluctant to travel.

"We have to be optimistic – otherwise we won't win," she told The National.

The hotel is among businesses allowed to reopen in England as lockdown measures introduced in December are finally eased.

From Monday, people will be able to meet indoors at restaurants and other venues in groups of up to six people.

Cinemas, museums and theatres will once again open their doors to patrons, with a strict limit on the number of people allowed inside.

People will be able to meet in groups of up to 30 people in parks and on beaches, just in time to make the most of the summer months.

Family members will finally be permitted to hug each other as social distancing measures in private settings are effectively ended.

Meanwhile, the UK's wedding industry will be back on track after a torrid 12 months.

Guidance states that up to 30 people will be allowed to attend weddings and receptions and funerals

Sporting events in indoor venues will be allowed a maximum capacity of 1,000 people and outdoor venues will be allowed 4,000.

In larger outdoor seated venues, up to 10,000 people will be allowed to watch sports events.

The path to normality will be a long one, and fears of another wave of the coronavirus are resurfacing which could scupper further unwinding.

On Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued a stark warning about the spread of a Covid-19 variant which was first detected in India.

At a Downing Street address on Friday, Mr Johnson gave the green light for the stage three in the road map out of lockdown, but said the next step on June 21 could be delayed.

For now, however, Britons are counting down the hours until they can meet friends and family at home once again.

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