After three months of lockdown, and only a slight easing of restrictions, many people are missing their loved ones greatly.
But following an update to current guidance on Tuesday (23 June), the rules around visiting and staying with family are due to be relaxed from 4 July.
Are overnight stays allowed?
From 4 July, two households of any size in England will be allowed to meet up indoors, and stay overnight.
Announcing the update in the House of Commons, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "From now on, we will ask people to follow guidance on social contact instead of legislation.
"In that spirit, we advise that from July 4, two households of any size should be able to meet in any setting inside or out.
"That does not mean they must always be the same two households, it will be possible for instance to meet one set of grandparents one weekend, the others the following weekend.
"But we are not recommending meetings of multiple households indoors because of the risk of creating greater chains of transmission."
Changes to restrictions also mean that people will be able to stay overnight in self-contained accommodation, including hotels, bed and breakfasts, and campsites, providing shared facilities are kept clean.
Under current guidance, unnecessary overnight stays have been banned by the UK government.
Up until 4 July, the law states that “no person may, without reasonable excuse, stay overnight at any place other than the place where they are living”.
Overnight stays that constitute a reasonable excuse include the following:
- Staying somewhere to attend a funeral, such as with a close family member, or at the deceased person’s household
- An elite athlete, or coach of an elite athlete, who is staying somewhere for the purposes of training or competition. This could include an athlete’s parent if they are under 18Needing to stay in alternate accommodation while moving house
- If it is reasonably necessary, such as for work or volunteering, providing care to a vulnerable person, emergency assistance, to “avoid injury or illness, or to escape a risk of harm”, or to obtain medical assistance
- If it is required for a legal reason
- If a child of divorced or separated parents splits their time between the homes of both parents
- If it is unsafe or unlawful to return home, or that home is “not available for any other reason”
What about ‘support bubbles’?
Under new rules that were brought in by the government this month, anyone who lives on their own, or is a single parent with children under the age of 18, is now allowed to form a ‘support bubble’ with another household.
As such, the two households will be allowed to visit each other and spend time in either home, as well as stay overnight, without having to comply with the social distancing rules.
However, the measures do not apply to people who are shielding, as they are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus.
Additionally, if any members of either household develop symptoms of coronavirus, they must all self-isolate for 14 days.
Announcing the measure on 10 June, the Prime Minister said: “We are making this change to support those who are particularly lonely as a result of lockdown measures.
“It is a targeted intervention to limit the most harmful effects of the current social restrictions.
“It is emphatically not designed for people who don’t qualify to start meeting inside other people’s homes because that remains against the law.”