Hugs, pubs and travel: 11 lockdown-easing 17 May rules confirmed today

·4-min read
A member of bar staff wearing PPE (personal protective equipment) in the form of a face mask, pours drinks inside the Wetherspoon pub, Goldengrove in Stratford in east London on July 4, 2020, as restrictions are further eased during the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. - Pubs in England reopen on Saturday for the first time since late March, bringing cheer to drinkers and the industry but fears of public disorder and fresh coronavirus cases. (Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Pubs may be abe to serve customers inside from next week. (AFP via Getty Images)

Boris Johnson has confirmed the next stage of easing England’s coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

At a Downing Street press conference on Monday evening, the prime minister confirmed the planned easing of COVID-19 restrictions scheduled for 17 May will go ahead as planned.

He told the public: “I want to thank you particularly, because your efforts [following lockdown rules] have so visibly paid off."

"It’s precisely because of your efforts that I can confirm today that we’ve met our four tests for further easing the lockdown in England.”

It means the country is on the brink of normality, with the government now aiming to drop all restrictions on social contact in the fourth and final stage of the road map on 21 June.

For now, though, let’s take a look at the government restrictions set to ease from 17 May...

1. Six people or two households can meet indoors

Gatherings inside homes will be allowed once again, with a limit of up to six people or groups from a maximum of two households.

2. Groups of up to 30 can meet outdoors

Cheerful university student taking selfie with friends sitting on grass
Groups of up to 30 people should be able to meet outside in England from 17 May. (Getty)

Larger groups of people will be free to meet friends and family in parks, gardens and other outdoor areas.

The legal limit has been extended to 30 people.

3. Overnight stays at people’s homes

Under the roadmap easing, domestic overnight stays with people who aren’t in your household or bubble will be permitted from 17 May.

4. Hugging

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said on Sunday that the government wants to allow people to return to having physical contact with their loved ones.

And speaking at Monday's press conference, Johnson confirmed this – while urging caution.

He said: "From next Monday, we're updating the guidance on close contact between friends and family, setting out the risks for everyone to make their own choices.

"This doesn't mean we can suddenly throw caution to the wind. In fact, more than a year into this pandemic, we all known close contact such as hugging is a direct way of transmitting this disease.

"So I urge you to think about the vulnerability of your loved ones, whether they've had a vaccine – one or two doses – and whether there's been time for that vaccine to take effect."

He added: "Whatever you decide, I must ask you to continue social distancing when not with friends and family."

Watch: Gove says government wants to allow 'contact between friends and family'

Daily COVID cases in the UK, May 9. (PA)
Daily COVID cases in the UK, May 9. (PA)

5. Pubs and restaurants open indoors

The prime minister announced that pubs and restaurants can start serving customers indoors from 17 May.

Pub-goers must order, eat and drink while seated to avoid queues at the bar.

There will be no curfews on indoor eating and drinking.

6. Holidaying at home

Hotels, hostels and B&Bs in England will be allowed to reopen from next Monday.

They will be able to take group bookings, meaning people can more easily plan domestic holidays.

7. Holidaying abroad

People wear masks at La Concha beach after Spain introduced stricter mask laws during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in San Sebastian, Spain, March 31, 2021. REUTERS/Vincent West
Britons may be able to travel to a small list of countries for holidays from next week. (Reuters)

Britons will be allowed to travel to countries on the government’s "green list" without having to quarantine on return, provided they take one post-arrival test.

Portugal, Gibraltar, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, plus several small remote islands that are British Overseas Territories, are currently on this list.

However, entry to Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei and the Faroe Islands is severely restricted.

8. Weddings and funerals

Up to 30 people will be allowed to attend weddings in England under the roadmap from 17 May.

For funerals, more than 30 people will be allowed to attend a service as the legal limit is removed.

9. Indoor entertainment

Cinemas, theatres, museums and soft-play areas will be allowed to reopen indoors under the roadmap for 17 May.

10. Performances and live events

Indoor arenas can be half full, up to a capacity of 1,000 people, from next Monday.

Outdoor arenas will be able to host live events with a maximum number of 4,000 attendees, or for large outdoor seated venues where crowds can be spread out, up to 10,000.

11. Indoor sports and exercise

Indoor arenas can be half full, up to a capacity of 1,000 people from next Monday.

Watch: Limit on mourners at funerals to be lifted

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