A relaxation to lockdown measures is to be implemented in England from Monday 1 June, following the UK government’s latest review.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a further easing of restrictions at the daily press briefing on Thursday (28 May), including the rules about meeting with family and friends.
How many people can I meet?
As of 1 June, family and friends in England will be allowed to meet up in parks and private gardens in groups of up to six people from different households, providing social distancing is maintained.
Mr Johnson said: “We will now allow people to meet in gardens, and other private outdoor spaces.
“These changes mean that friends and family can start to see their loved ones: perhaps seeing both parents at once, or both grandparents at once.”
“I know that for many people this will be a long-awaited and joyful moment.”
The rules mean people will be permitted to have a barbecue or picnic in someone’s garden, but people from different households are still not allowed to meet indoors.
However, it is acceptable to walk through a house to gain access to a garden, but a visit cannot be extended to stay overnight.
If you require use of the toilet during a visit, people are advised to wipe down and clean surfaces afterwards, to lower the risk of virus transmission.
People who are shielding and have been asked to stay at home should continue to do so, although Professor Chris Whitty said that the infection level may be sufficiently reduced to allow their freedom “relatively soon”.
What other rules have been relaxed?
The Prime Minister confirmed that all five key tests to allow lockdown to move to phase two had been met, meaning schools can begin reopening from 1 June.
The government expects pupils to be able to return to early years settings, and for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to be back in school in smaller sizes, from this point.
The relaxing of restrictions also means the economy can start to reopen.
From Monday (1 June), outdoor markets and car showrooms will be allowed to start trading again in England, followed by non-essential shops two weeks later on 15 June.
Non-essential retailers include shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books, and electronics, as well as tailors, auction houses, photography studios, and indoor markets.
What are the rules in the rest of the UK?
Scotland will begin a gradual relaxation of its rules from Friday (29 May), with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon permitting groups of up to eight people to meet outdoors, providing they keep two metres apart.
Scots will also be allowed to play more outdoor sports and visit garden centres, although people are still being encouraged to “stay at home” as much as possible.
In Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford is expected to announce that outdoor meet-ups will be permitted from Monday (1 June), although guidance recommends people don’t travel more than five miles.
In Northern Ireland, there are plans to ease some restrictions from 8 June, including allowing large retail stores to reopen.
Groups of up to six people who do not share a household are already allowed to meet up outdoors, with social distancing in place, and people can drive to outdoor spaces for exercise.