Lockdown changes: 11 things Boris Johnson is set to announce at 5pm tomorrow

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Johnson’s apology to Ballymurphy families ‘not sincere or complete’ (Report)
Johnson’s apology to Ballymurphy families ‘not sincere or complete’ (Report)

Boris Johnson is set to give a 5pm press conference on Monday confirming England’s lockdown can be eased on May 17.

The Prime Minister is expected to announce that England can enter ‘Step Three’ of the roadmap he first set out in February.

That means reopening pubs and restaurants indoors, letting family and friends stay overnight and reopening foreign travel.

Hugging between friends and family also looks set to be allowed for the first time in 15 months, while steam rooms at spas can reopen.

While nothing has been confirmed yet by Downing Street, we know the broad picture thanks to the roadmap itself and previous government announcements.

So here’s our best guess of what you might be able to expect.

1 Hugging allowed

Family and friends from different bubbles are expected to be allowed to hug again for the first time since March 2020.

With more than half of Brits having at least one vaccine dose, the PM is expected to say people should use their common sense.

Broader social distancing rules, including in public venues like pubs and restaurants, will remain until at least June 21.

But Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove confirmed the plan is to restore hugging from May 17 between friends and family.

“Friendly contact – intimate contact – between friends and family is something we want to see restored,” he told the BBC.

2 Overnight stays permitted
Step Three will allow people from different bubbles to meet indoors for the first time since the turn of the year.

Groups of up to six people or two households – whichever is larger – will be allowed to meet in an indoor setting.

This means that for the first time, you can visit family elsewhere in England and stay the night (without being in a tent).

It’s likely government guidance on sensible social distancing, cleaning and ventilation (opening windows) will remain.

3 Pubs can open indoors
The rule of six indoors applies equally to hospitality venues such as pubs, restaurants and cafes.

This indicates they will be allowed to open indoors from May 17 for the first time since the New Year, and for some, even earlier.

As with private gatherings, there will still be a maximum gathering size of six people or two households.

Pubs will also be table service only, although there is no need to order a “substantial meal” with a drink any more.

4 Up to 30 people can gather outdoors
The current limit of six people or two households on outdoor gatherings is likely to be removed at Step 3.

Instead, there will only be a legal limit of 30 people for outdoor gatherings, except for some organised events as outlined below.

This will mean large groups are once again allowed to gather in parks like last summer.

5 Domestic holidays can resume
Currently, only self-contained holiday accommodation can open in England – and people can only stay with their own bubble.

Now that you can stay overnight with people from different bubbles, hotels, B&Bs and other holiday venues like hostels are expected to reopen.

This essentially means England’s domestic tourism industry is allowed to be back in business.

6 Foreign travel can resume
From May 17, the legal ban on taking a holiday outside the UK is set to be lifted and travel will be allowed.

However, Brits returning from the vast majority of countries will have to isolate on their return, either at home or in a £1,750-a-head hotel.

Only ‘green list’ countries will be exempt from this and there are currently only a tiny handful of countries on the list, including Portugal and Israel.

Most of the countries on the UK’s green list still require Brits to isolate when they get to that country, making holiday plans worthless.

However, restrictions are widely expected to ease quite quickly as we move into June and July.

7 No cap on mourners at funerals
The cap on mourners at funerals is set to be axed ahead of schedule when England enters Step Three from May 17.

Currently funerals can only have 30 attendees while wakes are limited to 15 – a limit that was maintained for Prince Philip’s memorial service.

This limit was set to be reconsidered in step four of the roadmap, but the government has brought it forward.

Instead of a 30-person limit, venues will decide how many people can attend safely while still keeping up social distancing rules. That means two metres between mourners, or one metre plus mitigations like masks, screens and ventilation.

The new rules will apply to both indoor and outdoor services – but not wakes (more below).

8 Larger events can start going ahead
Fans can return to sports fixtures, with outdoor venues permitted capacities of 4,000 people or half-full, whichever is lower.

In the largest outdoor seated venues, where crowds can spread out, up to 10,000 people will be able to attend, or grounds can be a quarter-full, whichever is fewer.

Fans can attend larger performances and sporting events indoors, with capacities of 1,000 people or half-full, whichever is fewer.

Other events have already been taking place – with bigger crowds and no social distancing – but they’re part of a special pilot scheme and people must get negative tests to enter.

9 Saunas and steam rooms reopen
Gyms and spas were allowed to open at the last stage of the roadmap, but their saunas and steam rooms had to remain shut.

Now they can restart – as can indoor group sports and exercise classes, which were restricted to outdoors-only before.

10 Cinemas, museums and kids’ play areas can reopen
Remaining outdoor entertainment, such as outdoor theatres and cinemas, can reopen in Step Three.

And so can indoor entertainment, such as museums, cinemas and children’s play areas.

There may be measures like cinema-goers wearing masks throughout films to reduce transmission.

11 But weddings will still be limited
Weddings, receptions, funerals, and events such as wakes can proceed with up to 30 attendees – more generous than current rules.

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