Hugs with family and friends are expected to be “restored” from next week, alongside indoor socialising, as the UK government announces further easing of restrictions in England.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will confirm on Monday (10 May) the relaxation of rules for the next stage of the lockdown roadmap, which is due to take effect from 17 May.
Changes from 17 May
Ministers will hold a meeting on Monday morning to agree the next set of lockdown changes, which will take place in a week’s time.
The next phase will see most social contact rules outdoors lifted, although gatherings of more than 30 will still be illegal.
The rule of six, or two households, will apply indoors, and Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has hinted that physical contact between family and friends will be allowed.
Speaking on BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Mr Gove said: “All being well, the Prime Minister will confirm tomorrow that there will be a relaxation, we’ve already indicated a proportionate relaxation on international travel, very limited at this stage because we have to be safe.
“In the same way, as we move into stage three of our road map it will be the case that we will see people capable of meeting indoors.
“And without prejudice to a broader review of social distancing, it is also the case that friendly contact, intimate contact, between friends and family is something we want to see restored.”
Indoor hospitality will also reopen, alongside indoor entertainment venues, including cinemas, museums and soft play areas.
The rest of the accommodation sector will reopen, such as hotels, hostels and B&Bs, and indoor adult group sports and exercise classe are expected to resume.
Some large events, including conferences, theatre and concert performances and sports events, will be allowed to take place, and international travel will finally resume.
Other measures include allowing up to 30 people to attend weddings, receptions and wakes, as well as funerals.
Mr Gove also said the government is reviewing whether pupils should continue to wear masks in schools from 17 May.
Third of UK adults vaccinated
The government has said the latest data suggests that easing restrictions from 17 May is unlikely to risk a resurgence in infections, with Covid rates currently at their lowest level since September.
Hospital admissions are also continuing to decrease, or plateau at low levels in some areas, with levels similar to July last year.
The next phase of changes comes as latest figures show a third of UK adults are now fully vaccinated against coronavirus, with a total of 17,669,379 people having received both jabs – the equivalent of 33.5 per cent of all people aged 18 and over.
England and Northern Ireland are both estimated to have given two doses to 33.6 per cent of their adult population, slightly ahead of Wales at 33.4 per cent and Scotland 33.1 per cent.
More than 50 million vaccine doses have been administered in the UK as a whole and the government said it is on track to offer all adults a first dose by the end of July.
Mr Johnson will host a press conference on Monday (10 May) afternoon to confirm the further easing of restrictions.