As lockdown rules continue to ease across the UK, many are starting to look at when other restrictions will be eased under the government’s roadmap.
The Covid pandemic has seen a lot of rules introduced around social gathering to limit the spread of the deadly virus and protect the most vulnerable people in society.
But as the coronavirus vaccine rollout continues, coupled with falling hospital admissions, the mood is starting to lift across the UK as the summer months approach.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out four key dates for the gradual relaxation of restrictions across the country, leading up to 21 June when it is hoped all legal limits will be lifted.
There are some variations across the four nations but it is widely hoped that by the summer life will have a more normal feel about it – here’s when we can meet up indoors again.
What are the current rules for meeting friends and family inside?
The current lockdown rules in England don’t permit socialising with other households inside.
There are circumstances which allow for people, those living alone for example, to form a support bubble with another household local to their own.
A support bubble can be classed as one household, which means you can have close contact with the other household members as if they lived under the same roof as you.
When will I be able to meet others inside in England?
Four key dates were at the centre of Mr Johnson’s roadmap out of a third national lockdown, leading to opening up society again and relaxing restrictions on socialising indoors.
The first phase of lockdown easing saw thousands of pupils return to school on 8 March - the same point at which you can meet someone from a different household outside.
From 29 March, up to six people or two households can meet outside in either a public space or private garden.
Though it will be a further seven weeks before this rule applies to meeting others inside in England.
From 17 May, at the earliest, six people or two households can meet indoors. On this same date indoor hospitality opens, including pubs, restaurants and cinemas.
Groups of six or two households can meet in outdoor hospitality settings, such as pub beer gardens, from 12 April when non-essential shops will reopen under the roadmap.
While it is hoped that all legal limits on social contact are removed by 21 June, meaning as many people can meet inside as you want.
What is the decision dependent on?
Mr Johnson said he will be guided by “data not dates” meaning plans might change if there is a change in the Covid situation and what is hoped will happen over the coming weeks.
A gradual easing of restrictions, with a five-week gap in between phases, will give the government ample time to assess the situation after each relaxation of rules, said Mr Johnson.
The timetable is based on four factors:
- the continued success of the vaccine rollout and flow of supplies
- vaccines continues to have a positive impact in reducing the number of people dying and admitted to hospital with Covid
- infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations, which would put pressure on the NHS
- any variants of concern highlighted do not fundamentally change government's assessment of the risks
What about Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?
In Scotland, it is planned that people should be allowed to meet up inside others' homes from 17 May. This will initially be in groups of up to four people from no more than two households.
In Wales, families will be able to make 'extended households' between two households from 3 May, which could allow for some families to hug a different household for the first time since December.
Households are not currently permitted to mix inside in private settings in Northern Ireland, unless part of the same bubble. Up to six people from two households can meet indoors in a public place.