Following a recent announcement from the government, social distancing restrictions are set to be further relaxed from the start of next week (17/05).
As part of the next step of easing lockdown restrictions, the government will look to continue easing limits on seeing friends and family wherever possible, allowing people to decide on the appropriate level of risk for their circumstances.
This means that most legal restrictions on meeting others outdoors will be lifted - although gatherings of over 30 people will remain illegal. Indoors, the rule of six or two households will still apply. The government has promised to continuously keep this under review to determine whether it is safe to increase this.
Boris Johnson has confirmed that continuing to abide by social distancing will be a "personal choice" from the start of next week. Hugging and social contact between people will be allowed, but people should take care in considering any vulnerabilities of their loved ones. Until the rules are relaxed, people should continue to keep their distance from anyone not in their household or support bubble where possible.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has recently announced that pupils will no longer be advised to wear face coverings in schools and colleges due to decreasing infection rates and promising vaccination figures. All other protective measures such as extra hygiene standards and bubbles will remain in place.
Business and activities
Most businesses in all but the highest risk sectors will be able to reopen. In all sectors, "COVID secure" guidance will remain in place and businesses may not cater for groups bigger than the legal limits.
Indoor hospitality will reopen and venues will not have to serve a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks; nor will there be a curfew. Customers will, however, have to order, eat and drink while seated.
Other indoor locations to open up will include indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas and children’s play areas; the rest of the accommodation sector, including hotels, hostels and B&Bs; and indoor adult group sports and exercise classes.
The government will also allow some larger performances and sporting events in indoor venues with a capacity of 1,000 people or half-full (whichever is a lower number), and in outdoor venues with a capacity of 4,000 people or half-full (whichever is a lower number). In the largest outdoor seated venues, where crowds can be spread out, up to 10,000 people will be able to attend (or a quarter-full, whichever is lower).
Up to 30 people will be able to attend weddings, receptions and wakes, as well as funerals. This limit will also apply to other types of significant life events including bar mitzvahs and christenings.
Review of social distancing
Finally, before the final stage begins (assumed to not take place before 21 June), the government will complete a review of social distancing and other long-term measures that have been put in place to cut the transmission.
This will inform decisions on the timing and circumstances under which the rules on 1 metre plus, the wearing of face coverings and other measures may be lifted. This will also inform guidance on working from home – which should continue wherever possible until this review is complete.