People in England are expected to be able to meet friends and family indoors, stay away overnight and visit entertainment venues under plans to lift Covid-19 lockdown restrictions next week.
Boris Johnson will tell the public today (Monday) they can look forward to enjoying more freedom as he announces his intention to press ahead with the Stage Three of the coronavirus Roadmap from 17 May.
The changes to the rules will see people in parts of England enjoying freedoms they have not had since the end of summer last year.
Whilst the exact details of the next stage are due to be signed off in a Covid-O and Cabinet meeting today (Monday), it is not expected to diverge heavily from the Government’s Roadmap announced back in February.
This outlined plans to allow people to mix indoors in groups of six, outdoors in groups of 30 and attend weddings and funerals in larger numbers.
Rules around entertainment, hospitality and accommodation are expected to be significantly relaxed.
The Prime Minister is also expected to make an announcement around plans to ease social distancing rules which would allow closer contact between friend and family.
What will change?
The exact details of next stage in lifting lockdown in England will be agreed during a meeting today [MON] and announced shortly after.
But, based on the Boris Johnson’s roadmap, here’s what we expect to change:
Most social contact rules will be lifted outside although gatherings of more than 30 will be banned.
Indoors, up to six people or two households can meet.
An announcement is expected around the relaxing of social distancing to allow people to hug friends and family.
Cinemas, outdoor theatres, hospitality, soft play areas, all remaining accommodation, and indoor sports will reopen.
This will allow for overnight stays with people not in your household or bubble and will mean customers can sit indoors in hospitality venues.
Performances and sporting events indoors will reopen but with a capacity of no more than 1,000 people or half-full – whichever is lower.
Outdoor venues, such as stadiums, will reopen with a capacity of 4,000 people or half-full and, in larger venues where crowds can spread out, up to 10,000 people or a quarter of capacity will be allowed.
People will be able to travel abroad to “green list” countries without having to quarantine on their return.
Up to 30 people will be able to attend weddings, receptions, funerals and wakes. Other life events will be permitted such as bar mitzvahs and christenings.
Evidence is being reviewed around whether mask wearing in schools could be scrapped.
The Government’s roadmap for lifting lockdown states that, after 17 May, the next set of restrictions would be scrapped no earlier than 21 June.
From this date it is hoped legal limits on social contact can be removed. This would allow for nightclubs to reopen and all remaining restrictions on large events, performances, wedding and all other life events to be lifted.
Elsewhere in the UK
In Northern Ireland more restrictions could be lifted on 24 May which would bring the region largely in line with England’s stage three.
Wales is due to lift lockdown rules from 17 May, subject to government approval on 13 May, which would allow indoor hospitality and entertainment to open.
In Scotland restrictions are also due to be eased on 17 May to allow up to four people from no more than two households to mix in homes, up to six adults from three households to mix indoors in public and up to eight adults from eight households to meet outdoors. Restrictions are also due to relax for hospitality venues, sports and entertainment
Number 10 said stage three of the Covid-19 roadmap could ago ahead because the officials are not concerned infection rates are at a level that risk overwhelming the NHS, with Government data suggesting virus rates are at their lowest since September.
Hospital admissions are continuing to decrease or plateau at low levels, Number 10 said, with levels similar to July last year.
The Government said its assessment of the risks of lifting lockdown rules has not been fundamentally changed by the emergence of new Variants of Concern, such as the one that originated in India.
The announcement comes as NHS England confirmed a third of all adults have received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Mr Johnson will announced the changes to the rules in a press conference this afternoon.
He is expected to say: “The data reflects what we already knew – we are not going to let this virus beat us. The Roadmap remains on track, our successful vaccination programme continues – more than two-thirds of adults in the UK have now had the first vaccine – and we can now look forward to unlocking cautiously but irreversibly.
“It’s because of the British public’s unwavering commitment that we are saving lives, protecting the NHS and controlling the virus.”
The announcement will be made 18 weeks after Mr Johnson plunged the country into another national lockdown, on 4 January, following a huge spike in Covid-19 cases over winter.
Similar measures are expected to be introduced in the devolved regions of the UK, pending reviews carried out by their Governments.
Scotland will see its own relaxation on 17 May but with stricter rules around how many people can meet inside and outside.
Wales is entering its next stage on the same date, pending government approval on 13 May. Northern Ireland is not due to lift any more restrictions until 24 May.