The new rules mean larger gatherings indoors will be allowed to go ahead such as fairs.
Will Thomas, managing director of fair organiser IACF, said: “It is great for our industry to see the restrictions being eased, it has been an extremely challenging year for everyone but hopefully we can all move forward from here and welcome even more buyers and stallholders back to our fantastic fairs.
“Although restrictions are being eased IACF will still prioritise the safety of stallholders and visitors to our fairs.”
IACF’s next event is the Ardingly antiques fair on July 27-28.
The government has said that although face coverings will not be mandatory indoors, it announced “cautious guidance for individuals, businesses and the vulnerable” and that it “expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport” with an emphasis on “being outside or letting fresh air in”.
Many art and antiques businesses are planning to continue to ask staff and customers to wear face coverings inside.
Helen Carless, managing director at auction house Lawrences of Crewkerne, said: “While we are delighted that normality is beginning to return to the salerooms, Lawrences is still keen to ensure the safety of its staff and visitors. Consequently we shall continue to insist that masks are worn in our salerooms even after ‘Freedom Day’ on July 19.
“We shall also continue to preserve social distancing which means that while we are delighted to welcome bidders next week for our five days of sales on sale days, we cannot offer viewing on sale days as well. Viewing is on this Thursday, Friday, Saturday (July 15,16,17) morning and Monday July 19 morning.”
Guy Schooling, chairman at Sworders, said that, as the firm is still being impacted by the pandemic in terms of staff absences, restrictions will remain after July 19.
He said: “We will continue as we are now and keep all our regulations: wearing masks, sanitiser and social distancing.
“Collection and deliveries and viewings will remain by appointment, people will need to scan the track and trace app and we will continue our no people at the auction policy. People have got the hang of bidding remotely. We will continue to monitor the situation.”
“Common sense approach”
Other auction houses have taken slightly different approaches.
David Elstob at North Yorkshire auction house Elstob & Elstob, said: “For us it’s about a common sense approach. While we won’t be enforcing mask wearing and social distancing we will be asking clients to be mindful of those who are vulnerable and avoid crowding around certain areas of the saleroom.”
In Scotland the government has delayed its loosening of restrictions and now expects that the whole of Scotland will move down to level zero on July 19. Some restrictions remain at this level. Then on August 9 almost all major restrictions are due to be lifted.
In Wales many of the regulations will be relaxed from August 7 (with some changes on July 17). Limits on how many people can meet up will be scrapped from August 7. However other restrictions are remaining such as face masks will still be required in most indoor public places (except in hospitality businesses such as pubs and restaurants, or schools).
In Northern Ireland an update on restrictions will be discussed with ministers on August 12.
Some restrictions in the Republic of Ireland are being eased. International travel will resume on July 19 (through the EU Digital Covid Certificate) and from August 5 there will be a further increase in the number of people allowed to attend both indoor and outdoor events.
For the latest advice visit government websites: