Various consumer-focused companies are stepping up plans for potential reopenings after the coronavirus lockdown, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson expected to announce a gradual lift to restrictions on Sunday.
Vue Cinemas said its hopes to reopen its UK sites in mid-July, with chief executive Tim Richards saying that management is negotiating with the authorities and that the chain was confident it could maintain social distancing.
“We are seeing our markets in Europe opening before ours,” Richards said. “We are trying to work with the government to demonstrate we are not like sporting fixtures and pop concerts.”
Although it met a barrage of criticism, it was the top riser on the FTSE 100 on Tuesday morning.
“It’s a smart move that helps tell customers and shareholders the company is still alive while giving Carnival a chance to collect some bookings revenue,” commented Jasper Lawler, head of research at London Capital Group.
“August is still three months out and plenty could change but the timing fits the timeline indicated by many governments on easing travel restrictions.”
According to guidelines published by the UK government, airlines are expected to apply social distancing measures and to be “socially responsible in the decisions they make”, while the public is encouraged not to fly.
Only businesses deemed essential, such as supermarkets, pharmacies, many manufacturers and some construction companies have remained operational through the lockdown.
Certain activities, such as restaurants offering home deliveries, have been granted permission to stay open.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to update on plans to lift restrictions on more consumer facing businesses on Sunday.
Only a modest lift to restrictions will be sustainable for the country, said Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.
“The UK population's relatively high density and usage of public transport suggests that normal life cannot be resumed,” he said.
“In addition, the UK’s very high labour force participation rate means that a material economic reboot will rely on re-opening schools, where social distancing is difficult to implement.”