As for previous steps, it will start at least five weeks after the beginning of Step 3 and the government will announce one week in advance whether restrictions will be eased as planned.
This stage will see the reopening of the remaining businesses and all legal limits on social contacts removed. Still, people will be advised to apply government guidance on how to reduce the risk of transmission (e.g. washing hands frequently). Of course, the extent to which social distancing measures will be lifted will depend on the impact of the vaccination programme and on the infection rate.
Step 4 will see the following actions:
The removal of any limit to social contact would be the most significant change of this phase. This means that social distancing measures will be removed, allowing people to gather in groups of any size both outdoors and indoors.
For businesses, this would be a major change, as they will be allowed to operate at full capacity, like before the pandemic. As a business, this means you should prepare in advance and adapt to the pre-pandemic operations. This implies the removal of social distancing signage, physical structures (such as barriers, protective screens, etc.) and, most importantly, resume to the previous layout of the premises to accommodate your usual number of customers according to capacity.
The removal of social distancing measures will also imply a change in your service. For example, if you are a hospitality business, table service will not be mandatory anymore. You might also have to revise your staffing plans. For example, people will no longer need to work in the same shift to reduce the risk of infection and staff you have previously employed as stewards (to manage queues for example) can get back to their normal duties.
The remaining closed settings, such as nightclubs, will finally be allowed to reopen. Large events, such as concerts, theatre performances and conferences will be able to resume at full capacity. Also, there will be no legal limits on the number of people who can attend life events such as weddings or funerals. Starting in April, the government will run pilots for large events to help determine how measures such as enhanced testing might allow large groups to attend without social distancing.
Businesses such as nightclubs and the ones operating in the event sector will have to prepare the reopening in advance, planning staffing carefully and, for example, starting the planning and promotion of events well before the reopening.
No earlier than 17 May, travel restrictions on leisure travel might be eased. The government is currently working to find ways to ease restrictions on international travel gradually and sustainably. With international leisure travel resuming in the UK, businesses will have the opportunity to tap into increased demand from international travellers. Businesses, especially in the accommodation, hospitality and events sector should monitor closely the situation to be ready to adapt operations swiftly to satisfy a larger demand.