A guide to Covid rules and restrictions from May 17

·4-min read
Pubs will start serving punters indoors from May 17 (PA)
Pubs will start serving punters indoors from May 17 (PA)

Finally, the news we have all been waiting for - further Covid restrictions will officially be relaxed from today.

That means Londoners can hug friends and family indoors, enjoy a pint or a meal inside and even take a trip abroad.

The rule of six - or two households - applies for a majority of indoor socialising - with capacity restrictions in place for larger events and performances.

The Government has given the public the “choice” to decide whether or not to socially distance with close family and friends, meaning it is up to the individual whether they hug or touch.

Experts say England is in a “strong position” to move ahead with the easing of Covid restrictions as hospital admissions and new cases have dipped to the low levels seen since last summer.

The Prime Minister said “now everyone must play their part” as England pushed ahead with the third stage of the road map out of lockdown.

Mr Johnson also said England remains “on track” to end all legal restrictions on June 21. An update is expected later this month.

Here’s what you can and can’t do from today:

Meeting outdoors

People can meet outdoors in groups of up to 30.

Meanwhile, 30 people are allowed to attend a support group or parent and child group (limit does not include children under five).


Hospitality can finally open indoors - meaning pubs, restaurants and bars with no outdoor space can open.

Previously, punters were only allowed to eat and drink outside in groups of up to six or two households.

Diners and drinkers must remain seated and table service is necessary in all indoor hospitality venues. There are no curfews or “substantial meal” restrictions which had been imposed prior to the latest lockdown.

The rule of six or two households will also apply for indoor dining.

Meanwhile, hotels, hostels and B&Bs can reopen. Steam rooms and saunas can open within them.

Entertainment venues and gyms

Indoor entertainment can open, including cinemas, bowling alleys, museums, and children’s play areas.

They have been closed since the nationwide lockdown was implemented at the start of the year.

Organised adult sport and exercise classes can resume indoors. Previously, gyms could open but facilities were limited and no group classes were allowed.

Saunas and steam rooms can open as well.

Live performances and sports

Theatres, concert halls, conference centres and sports stadiums can reopen - but all with capacity limits.

Mass and rapid testing will help support the go-ahead for these events.

Large indoor performances and sporting events with a capacity of 1,000 people will be allowed.

Meanwhile, large outdoor performances and sporting events will have a maximum capacity of 4,000 or half full, whichever is lower.

Bigger stadiums will be allowed 10,000 people - or quarter capacity - whichever is lower.

Weddings and funerals

Up to 30 people will be able to attend weddings and receptions. This limit will also apply to other types of “significant life events”, including bar mitzvahs and christenings.

The current cap on funeral attendees of 30 has been lifted. Venues are expected to accommodate as many people as they can safely depending on their size.


Secondary school and college students will no longer have to wear facemasks as the data shows infection rates among pupils and staff continuing to decrease in line with community transmission. However, twice weekly home testing has to continue.

Remaining university students are eligible to return to in person teaching as well.

Care homes

Care home residents can have up to five named visitors and there will be more freedom to make visits out of the home, it was confirmed.

Foreign travel and UK staycations

With regards to travel, many more staycations will become available up from May 17 as hotels reopen.

Some international holidays are allowed following the Government’s announcement of a new traffic lights system for overseas travel, with countries designated either ‘green’, ‘amber’ or ‘red’. The green list is here and includes Portugal, Israel, Australia and New Zealand.

The government advises people do not to go to destinations on the amber list.

What is next?

Step four, slated for June 21, ought to see the “removal of all legal limits on social contact” and the final reopening of premises, such as nightclubs.

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