Boris Johnson set to announce seven Covid lockdown changes at 5pm press conference

Hugs with family and friends and indoor socialising are expected to be allowed from next week as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces further easing of coronavirus restrictions in England.

Monday, 10th May 2021, 7:20 am

The next stage of the road map out of lockdown is expected to go ahead as planned in a week’s time, with ministers to hold a meeting on Monday morning to agree the next set of measures.

From May 17, most social contact rules outdoors will be lifted, although gatherings of more than 30 will remain illegal.

So what will people in England be able to do from May 17?

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Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a news conference amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic at Downing Street

Outdoor gatherings

As summer approaches, the Government has pledged to look at easing restrictions on outdoor gatherings up to a legal limit of 30 people.

This means Mr Johnson is likely to say people are free to meet friends and family in parks, gardens and other outdoor areas.

The Government’s road map advises people to “decide on the appropriate level of risk for their circumstances” when arranging to meet.

Pubs indoor

Gatherings inside homes are likely to be allowed once again, with a limit of up to six people or groups from a maximum of two households.

A return to indoor pubs, cinemas and sports is also on the cards – and this time without any 10pm curfews.

Pub-goers will also be free to meet for a pint without having to buy a substantial meal, but they must order, eat and drink while seated to avoid queues at the bar.

Hugging

Mr Johnson is expected to update the advice on social distancing to allow more intimate contact with relatives and friends.

In a nod towards hugging being allowed once again, cabinet minister Michael Gove told Sky News on Sunday that “intimate contact between friends and family is something we want to see restored”.

The Government will also be reviewing wider social-distancing policies which are in place to reduce coronavirus transmission, including the two-metre rule and mandatory face coverings on transport and in other public places.

Businesses reopening

In a huge boon for the hospitality sector, the Prime Minister is expected to say that most businesses in all but the highest risk areas will be able to reopen.

Business owners must follow Covid safety guidelines including making sure they do not cater for groups beyond the legal limits.

Large events

In addition to funerals, up to 30 people will be able to join together to celebrate weddings, receptions, wakes and religious ceremonies like bar mitzvahs and christenings.

May 17 is also likely to herald a return to theatres and indoor sporting arenas, with a maximum capacity of 1,000 people.

Outdoor arenas will be able to host live events with a maximum number of 4,000 attendees, or for large outdoor seated venues where crowds can be spread out, up to 10,000.

Working from home

As part of the Government’s review into longer-term social-distancing policies, the working from home message may also be scrapped.

This may not come into effect on May 17, but is expected before the following phase easings on June 21.

Foreign travel

The Prime Minister has previously announced that Britons will be allowed to travel to green list countries without having to quarantine, providing they take one post-arrival test.

Portugal, Gibraltar, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Iceland and the Faroe Islands – plus several small remote islands which are British Overseas Territories are currently on this list.

However, entry to Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei and the Faroe Islands is severely restricted.

Hotels, hostels and B&Bs in England will be allowed to take group bookings, meaning people can more easily plan domestic holidays.