UK lockdown rules explained: the new guidance for socialising, events and entertainment from May 17

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says new freedoms should be treated with a 'heavy dose of caution'

England has entered stage three of its roadmap out of lockdown as planned.

The continuing success of the UK’s vaccination programme and the steady drop in coronavirus cases, hospital admissions and deaths allowed ministers to give the green light for the next stage of lockdown easing to proceed.

The roadmap isn’t obstacle-free, however, with the threat of existing and new mutations casting a long and enduring shadow.

Lockdown rules: what is and isn’t allowed from May 17

Socialising: can we hug friends and family again

Hugs between family members and friends are allowed for the first time in a year.

Meeting up outside in groups of more than 30 people, and meeting up indoors in groups of six people or two larger households, are also allowed to go ahead.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said everyone must continue to “play their part” and take the Covid-19 vaccine to protect against variants of the virus.

“Together we have reached another milestone in our roadmap out of lockdown, but we must take this next step with a heavy dose of caution,” he said.

“We are keeping the spread of the variant first identified in India under close observation and taking swift action where infection rates are rising.”

Business and activities: have cinemas reopened?

Business in “all but the highest risk sectors will be able to reopen”, according to government guidelines.

Covid-secure protocols will remain in place, however, and business must adhere to the legal limits on gatherings.

Indoor hospitality has resumed but patrons must remain seated.

Indoor entertainment is back, including cinemas, museums and children’s play areas, as is indoor accommodation, with hotels, hostels and B&Bs opening their doors once more.

For group exercisers less keen on the ‘al fresco’ experience, May 17 will herald the return of indoor exercise classes and adult group sports.

Large events: are concerts back?

Some larger performances and sporting events in indoor venues with a capacity of 1,000 people and outdoor venues with a capacity of 4,000 people are allowed.

In larger outdoor seated venues where crowds can disperse, up to 10,000 people are allowed to watch.

Theatres, concert halls and conference centres can also reopen but at a reduced capacity to ensure social distancing.

Foreign trips: can I go overseas again?

The ban on foreign travel has been lifted, although quarantine is still required for most destinations.

Britain’s green list of travel destinations allows for relatively unrestricted travel between the UK and 12 countries and territories.

Forty-three countries are on the red list, requiring British residents to quarantine in an approved hotel for 10 days at a cost of £1,750 ($2,467).

Every other country is on the amber list - meaning travellers must quarantine at home for 10 days and take PCR tests on days two and eight.

Small events: how many people can attend weddings?

It’s been a disastrous 12 months for the wedding industry but May 17 at least provides some tentative green shoots of recovery.

Up to 30 people are allowed to attend weddings and receptions, as well as funerals, wakes, bar mitzvahs and christenings.

Social distancing: when will the one-metre rule be abandoned?

Mr Johnson said earlier in May that the UK could be able to remove the one-metre plus rule for social distancing.

This would happen in the fourth and final stage of the roadmap on June 21, the earliest date most restrictions are removed.

Mr Johnson said there was no need to delay the fourth stage, despite fears of a surge in cases fuelled by the Indian strain of Covid-19.

“The current data does not indicate unsustainable pressure on the NHS and our extraordinary vaccination programme will accelerate – with second doses being bought forward to give the most vulnerable maximum protection,” he said.

“But now everyone must play their part – by getting tested twice a week, coming forward for your vaccine when called and remembering hands, face, space and fresh air. I urge everyone to be cautious and take responsibility when enjoying new freedoms today in order to keep the virus at bay.”

Updated: May 17, 2021 03:56 PM

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