Your vital Q&A on today's lifting of lockdown rules

Your guide to FREEDOM: From pints in pubs, movies on the big screen and that long-awaited hug with gran… vital Q&A on today’s lifting of lockdown rules

People across England began enjoying a series of newfound freedoms today as indoor hospitality returned and hugs with family and friends were allowed again.

The next stage of the post-lockdown roadmap went ahead as planned at midnight, with up to six people or two different households now allowed to meet indoors.

Hugs and other physical contact between households are now permitted for the first time since Covid-19 restrictions began more than a year ago in March 2020.

Pubs and restaurants can now welcome customers back indoors, visits to the homes of friends and family can resume and the foreign holiday ban has ended.

Cinemas, hotels and B&Bs also reopened, although anyone visiting a pub must remain seated while eating or drinking – and nightclubs remain closed for now.  

Here, MailOnline looks at what your newfound freedoms are from today: 

Can people come over to my house again?

Yes. Up to six people from multiple households or an unlimited number of people from two households can now visit you inside your house again.

Can people stay over at my house again?

Yes. People from outside your household are now allowed to stay overnight, as long as you stick to within the rule of six or two households.

Can I still meet people outside?

Yes. You can now meet in groups of up to 30 people outside, but bigger groups are illegal.

A member of staff serves food to customers at the Northwestern pub in Liverpool this morning

Can I hug my friends and family again?

Yes. The Government has said you can now hug ‘close friends and family’ from outside your own household – for the first time since the pandemic began.

However, people should ‘exercise their own personal judgement in line with the risks.’ There is no legal definition on who ‘close friends and family’ are.  

Wider social distancing rules remain in place in adult social care, medical, retail, hospitality and business settings, the Government said.

Can I sit inside a pub again?

Yes, indoor hospitality has resumed – so you can sit inside a pub or restaurant with people from other households, as long as the rule of six (or two households) is met.

The National Youth Choir of Scotland meet on Calton Hill in Edinburgh to sing this morning

Is there a substantial meal or curfew requirement for pubs?

No. As with step two on April 12, venues do not have to serve a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks; nor is there a curfew.

Can I stand at the bar?

No. Customers still have to order, eat and drink while seated at a hospitality venue – even though they are now allowed inside.

People take part in training sessions at STK Fitness in South Tyneside this morning

Are indoor entertainment venues now allowed to reopen?

Yes. Cinemas, theatres, museums and indoor children’s play areas can all now reopen, but must follow guidelines on social distancing and face masks.

Concert halls, conference centres and sports stadia are also now allowed to reopen, with larger events in all venues able to resume with capacity limits (see below). 

Sunny Jouhal, general manager of the London Eye, stands on top of a London Eye pod to celebrate the re-opening of the attraction today

Do venues face capacity limits?

Yes. Larger performances and sporting events are now capped in indoor venues with a capacity of 1,000 people or half-full, whichever is a lower number. For outdoor venues the cap is 4,000 people or half-full – again, whichever is lower.

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

Will social distancing and face masks rules remain for now?

Yes. The one-metre (3ft) rule remains in place in public settings such as pubs, shops and restaurants. You should wear a face mask when walking around these places.

What about children wearing masks in schools?

Secondary school children no longer have to wear face masks in classrooms and corridors from today. However, those aged 11 and above are still required to wear the masks in public settings such as shops, unless they have a medical exemption.

Ministers said infection rates among students and staff continue to decrease in line with wider community transmission, but twice weekly home testing will remain. 

Guests at Studley Castle Hotel in Warwickshire eat at its restaurant, in a picture issued today

Can students now attend university lectures in person again?

Yes. All university students in England can return to campus today for in-person teaching. They will be expected to get tested for Covid-19 twice a week.

Most students, apart from those on critical courses, were told not to travel back to term-time accommodation as part of the third national lockdown in January.

Students on practical courses, who require specialist equipment and facilities, began returning to face-to-face teaching on March 8. But it is estimated that about half of university students have not been eligible to return to in-person lessons.

Charlotte Griffiths, 25, with her three-year-old son Robert, from Morpeth, Northumberland, at the Great North Museum in Newcastle today

Can I go on holiday abroad again?

Yes, but with many restrictions. Last Friday, the UK Government cleared just 12 destinations for quarantine-free tourist trips for Britons from May 17.

However, many of the destinations are remote islands or have very strict entry measures or blanket bans on UK tourists, further reducing the list of options.

Portugal and Gibraltar are the only countries on the ‘green list‘ that most Britons will realistically be able to visit for a warm weather holiday this month.

You can technically also go on holiday to ‘amber list’ and ‘red list’ countries again too, but you will need to complete a period of quarantine as follows:

For amber list, you must quarantine at home for ten days on your return and take a PCR test on days two and eight – as well as a lateral flow test before the return flight.

Or there is an alternative option that you could pay for an additional ‘Test to Release’ on day five to end self-isolation early. There is also a chance the country turns red.

Those returning from a red list country must stay in a government-approved quarantine hotel for 11 nights upon their return at a cost of £1,750.

Passengers prepare to board an easyJet flight to Faro at Gatwick Airport this morning

Is there a new limit on wedding numbers?

Yes. Up to 30 people can now attend weddings. This limit also applies to other types of significant life events including bar mitzvahs and christenings.

Are funerals also now limited to 30 people?

No. There is now no limit of the number of mourners at funerals, although the venue must operate in a socially distanced way and within capacity guidelines.

Can I stay overnight somewhere with people from another family?

Yes. The rest of the accommodation sector can now reopen, including hotels, hostels and B&Bs – and people from different households can share the same room.

Up until May 17, if you wanted to stay at a hotel or self-catering accommodation, you could only do so with members of your own household or support bubble.

A room is prepared for guests at the Hilton Metropole Brighton Hotel, in a picture issued today

Can I go to indoor sport classes now?

Yes. All indoor adult group sports and exercise classes were allowed again from today, five weeks after gyms were allowed to reopen under step two on April 12.

Are closed parts of leisure centres now allowed to reopen?

Yes. Saunas and steam rooms are now allowed to reopen, following on from swimming pools and gyms on April 12.

Are there limits on numbers in support groups?

Yes. The Government has said 30 people can now able to attend a support group or parent and child group. The limit does not include children aged under five.

May Morris is hugged by her granddaughter Francesca Royle this morning in Carlisle

Have restrictions on care home visiting changed?

Yes. Care home visiting has been eased further, with residents able to have up to five named visitors and more freedom to make ‘low risk visits’ out of the home.

Has the guidance on working from home changed?

No. People are still being advised to ‘continue to work from home where they can’.

Are there businesses that still cannot reopen?

Yes. Nightclubs are the only businesses that must remain shut until at least June 21.

Is there a confirmed date for when all Covid rules will cease?

Not yet. The Government hopes that on June 21 it will be able to drop all legal limits on social contact, but this will be confirmed nearer the time.

Before this date, the Government will complete a review of social distancing and other long-term measures such as face masks and guidance on working from home.

Though the Government is continuing with today’s relaxation, Boris Johnson has warned the Indian variant could jeopardise plans to end legal restrictions on June 21. 

Soft plays return today as children head back into Hullabaloo at The Sherriff Centre in West Hampstead, North West London

Why can we now move into Step 3 today?

The Government has set four tests to further ease restrictions, which have now been met. These are that:

  • The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully;
  • Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated;
  • Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS;
  • Assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants of concern.

It also comes after the UK Chief Medical Officers confirmed last week that the UK Covid-19 alert level should move from level four to level three.

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