Johnson reveals which COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted on 17 May in England

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People in England will be able to enjoy a pint or a meal indoors, hug their loved ones and return to cinemas. The news came as the UK’s COVID alert level was lowered from four to three.

“England will further ease COVID-19 restrictions from May 17 and the plan to move beyond the pandemic has as yet not been derailed by variants”, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday. People should “live responsibly” with Covid and stay vigilant to the risks as England’s lockdown is further eased, the prime minister has said. “This unlocking amounts to a very considerable step on the road back to normality and I am confident that we will be able to go further,” Johnson told a news conference.

Addressing a No 10 briefing, he said indoor hospitality and household mixing can resume as planned from next Monday. People will now also be able to choose whether to socially distance with close family and friends. Johnson has previously said nearly all restrictions could be lifted on June 21. 

List of measures eased:

From 17 May, these are the new rules:

  • People can meet outdoors in groups of up to 30 people
  • Indoors, groups of six or a larger group of two households can meet
  • Hospitality can open indoors – but diners and drinkers must remain seated
  • Indoor entertainment can open, including cinemas, museums, and children’s play areas
  • Theatres, concert halls, conference centres and sports stadia can reopen – with capacity limits
  • Large indoor performances and sporting events with a capacity of 1,000 people will be allowed
  • Outdoor large performances and sporting events will have a maximum capacity of 4,000 people or must only be half full, whichever is lower
  • Bigger sports stadiums will be allowed 10,000 people or can only be a quarter full, whichever is lower
  • Testing will be used to support these openings
  • Organised adult sport and exercise classes can resume indoors
  • Saunas and steam rooms can open
  • Travel restrictions are lifted – but people should only travel to green list countries, or amber if they really have to
  • Hotels, hostels and B&Bs can reopen fully
  • Staycations can take place in groups of up to six people or two households
  • Weddings, receptions, and other life events can take place with up to 30 people – but no guests can dance
  • Funerals can take place with the number of people safely allowed at that specific venue
  • Thirty people can attend a support group, or parent and child group (children under five years old do not count)
  • Care home residents can have up to five named visitors and greater freedoms to make low-risk visits
  • Face coverings no longer needed by secondary school and college pupils in classrooms or communal areas
  • Twice weekly home testing for pupils remains
  • All remaining university students can return to in-person teaching, with twice weekly testing
  • People have the choice as to whether to socially distance with close family and friends
  • People can hug those close to them but they should remain cautious as this remains a way of transmitting COVID
  • Wider social distancing rules remain in place in adult social care, medical, retail, hospitality and business settings.

Asked if he might bring forward a June 21 date for the final stage of his roadmap out of lockdown, Johnson said: “I think it’s very important that we should proceed cautiously.” “The secret of the success that we’ve had so far I think it’s been that we have been guided by the data and we’ve given time to see the effect of each successive stage on the roadmap.”

He predicted Britain’s post-pandemic working habits will get much closer to normality, and that cities would be bustling again. “I’m optimistic that things will get back much closer to normality,” he told a news conference when asked whether people should be planning to work from home throughout the summer and autumn.

On cities, he said: “I know this is contested but I’m pretty certain that eventually our town centres … our city centres are going to be full of bustle, full of people wanting to interact again, in the way that they always have done.

Johnson added that we cannot suddenly throw caution to the winds.

“In fact, more than a year into this pandemic, we all know that close contact, such as hugging, is a direct way of transmitting this disease,” the prime minister added.

“So I urge you to think about the vulnerability of your loved ones – whether they have had a vaccine, one or two doses, and whether there has been time for that vaccine to take effect.

Reuters / BBC / Sky News

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