Can I play golf again? New lockdown rules in England explained

Lockdown measures are being eased following success of vaccination programme

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England on Monday implemented new lockdown rules which allow more people to meet friends and family outdoors.

Authorities reintroduced the "rule of six", allowing gatherings of half a dozen people from two different households, but warned the public not to go beyond their newly permitted freedom.

The easing is the first phase of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's roadmap out of the lockdown that was introduced after the emergence of deadly new Covid-19 strains from the UK and abroad.

The government plans to allow pub gardens to reopen, along with non-essential services such as hairdressers, from April 12.

England's new lockdown rules

  • People can meet outdoors in a group of six from any number of households, or in a group of any size from two households only
  • People can take part in formal, organised outdoor sports with any number of people, with outdoor sports venues allowed to reopen
  • Childcare and supervised activities allowed outdoors for all children
  • Organised parent and child groups can take place outdoors for up to 15 attendees (children under five will not be counted in this number)

What is the rule of six?

The rule of six was introduced in September to limit the spread of Covid-19, but ended when the lockdown was introduced.

People are now able to meet a maximum of six people from two different households, but only outdoors.

Friends and family will be able to gather in parks or in private gardens, as long as they observe social distancing.

End to staying at home

People can leave their homes, reversing government guidance to stay in as much as possible.

But some restrictions remain. Holidays are banned and employees are urged to work from their houses where possible.

Outdoor sports resume but when will gyms open?

People in England are able to take part in formally organised outdoor sports. Team sports, such as rugby and football, are allowed.

Outdoor sports centres and venues will be allowed to reopen but spectators will not be allowed to watch from the stands.

Indoor gyms will not reopen until April 12, with strict social distancing enforced.

Childcare allowed outdoors

Childcare and supervised activities will be allowed outdoors for all children from March 29.

Formally organised parent and child activities can take place outdoors for up to 15 people, but children under 5 will not be not counted.

Weddings return but rule of six applies

The loosening of restrictions will come as a relief to the Covid-blighted wedding industry.

Up to six people are allowed to attend marriage ceremonies but licensed wedding venues must stay closed until mid-May at the earliest.

On Saturday, Mr Johnson said data continued to support easing the lockdown restrictions, but a third wave of Covid-19 was sweeping Europe and could hit Britain in about three weeks.

The key difference to last year was that any rise in infections and hospital admissions should be mitigated by vaccine distribution.

"And as things stand, I can see absolutely nothing in the data to dissuade me from continuing along our roadmap to freedom, unlocking our economy and getting back to the life we love," Mr Johnson told an online Conservative Party event.

"In just a few days' time, I'm finally going to be able to go to the barber.

"But more important than that, I'm going to be able to go down the street and cautiously, but irreversibly, I'm going to drink a pint of beer in the pub."