Lockdown road map: Families can visit indoors and stay overnight from 17 May at the earliest, Boris Johnson announces

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (Covid-19). Picture date: Monday February 15, 2021.
Boris Johnson has oulined new rules that will allow the 'cautious' easing of lockdown restrictions. (PA) (PA)

People will not be able to stay overnight with family members until 17 May at the earliest, according to Boris Johnson's road map out of lockdown.

The prime minister has announced what he dubbed a "cautious" approach for easing coronavirus restrictions across England, which involves a four-step approach to unlocking the country.

Ahead of his announcement to MPs on Monday, Johnson said he would prioritise the reopening of schools and safely reuniting loved ones.

According to the plan, six people or two households will be able to meet outdoors from 29 March as part of Step 1 of the plan, but will have to wait until Step 3 — not due to come into effect until 17 May at the earliest — to mix indoors.

It comes as part of a plan that could see England’s coronavirus restrictions finally completely lifted by 21 June.

Watch: What Are the Four Tests to End Lockdown?

Many people across the country have been unable to see family members for long periods since the start of the COVID pandemic, either due to national lockdowns or regional tier restrictions that banned them from spending time with relatives indoors or travelling to see them.

For some, the introduction of Tier 4 restrictions in London and the South East just before Christmas meant they had to cancel plans to spend the festive period with family, with some forced to spend it alone.

Does that mean I have to wait until May to stay overnight with family?

Yes. The timescales set out by the PM on Monday are all the earliest dates that various steps will happen, with those dates subject to be pushed back if the data doesn't support the move to the next stage.

Can I see my family outdoors?

Step 1 of the government's plan includes being able to meet one other person to sit outside from 8 March, followed by six people or up to two households being able to meet outdoors, including in private gardens, from 29 March, which means people will be able to spend time with loved ones, but not inside.

The government's road map contains four tests for easing measures, with the government set to examine data at each stage before unlocking further.

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Ministers will assess the success of the vaccine rollout, evidence of vaccine efficacy, new variants and infection rates before proceeding to the next step.

The government has already said the tests are currently being met, allowing the first relaxation to take place on 8 March when schools are widely expected to return.

What about hugging my relatives?

A further piece of work, due to conclude by 21 June, is set to look at social distancing requirements – including hugs with friends and relatives – the use of face masks and requirements to work from home.

Johnson said it is hoped that all remaining restrictions on social contact could be lifted from 21 June at the earliest.

Watch: What UK government COVID-19 support is available?