Can I visit family? Latest advice on seeing relatives and friends as UK Government ease lockdown rules

After almost two months of lockdown, the UK Government has outlined a three-phase plan for “reopening society”

Monday, 11th May 2020, 3:14 pm
Updated Tuesday, 26th May 2020, 12:37 pm

In a national address on 10 May, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a number of changes to current lockdown measures that will come into force in the coming weeks.

However, Mr Johnson said there will be no immediate end to the lockdown and the new guidance will only apply in England, as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are adopting their own approaches to easing restrictions.

This is the latest advice on lockdown rules across the UK.

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Visiting the homes of family and friends is still not allowed

Am I allowed to visit family and friends?

Social distancing guidance is still in force across the UK, with people advised to stay two metres apart from each other.

In England, meeting one person from a different household in a public place is permitted, providing they maintain a two-metre distance.

However, visiting the homes of family and friends is still not allowed.

Any larger meetings between different households at the same time is currently banned, with the government rules meaning someone cannot see both parents at the same time.

Mr Johnson's speech also said that people will be allowed to sunbathe or chat in a park with a person from a different household, with social distancing in place.

In Downing Street press conference on Wednesday (13 May), Dr Jenny Harries said meeting with family could later be expanded to allow different households to meet as "bubbles" or "clusters", but such a step needs to be carefully considered.

Family gatherings that involve multiple generations are still considered too dangerous until more is known about the virus and who is the most at risk.

Driving to other destinations, such as parks or beaches, within England is now also permitted as of Wednesday (13 May), but should only be done with members of your own household.

Crossing the border to Wales or Scotland for leisure activities is not allowed if different restrictions are in force.

Government guidance states: “People may drive to outdoor open spaces irrespective of distance, so long as they respect social distancing guidance while they are there, because this does not involve contact with people outside your household.

“When travelling to outdoor spaces, it is important that people respect the rules in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and do not travel to different parts of the UK where it would be inconsistent with guidance or regulations issued by the relevant devolved administration.”

In Scotland, the ‘stay at home’ message still remains, meaning people should not leave their households to visit family members or friends.

In Wales, the current advice on social distancing and visiting family remains the same, with the only changes to lockdown guidance being the reopening of garden centres and no limit on the amount of exercise per day.

Northern Ireland is allowing groups of between four and six people who do not share a household to meet up outdoors, while maintaining social distancing.

Visits to immediate family indoors will be allowed, provided social distancing is adhered to, with the exception of those who are shielding.

When will the rules be changed?

The government must review lockdown measures every three weeks, with the next update due to take place on Thursday 28 May, with any amendments to be enforced a few days later, on 1 June.

The next review will consider the effects of the changes made at the last review, with any further amendments to be warranted by the current alert level.

The government’s current aim is that the next step will be made no earlier than Monday 1 June, subject to it being safe to do so.

In regard to seeing family and friends, the government has asked SAGE to examine whether it can safely change regulations to allow people to expand their household group to include another household in the same exclusive group.

The intention of this would be to allow those who are isolated some more social contact, as well as supporting some families to return to work, by permitting the sharing of childcare.

What are the fines if rules are broken?

Police officers have the power to stop and ask you where you are heading and could issue a fine if they do not believe your reason for travel falls within what is considered ‘reasonable’ for leaving your home.

Those who ignore the restrictions on movement could land an initial fine of £30, rising to unlimited fines for non-compliance.

In England, fines for breaching coronavirus regulations will now rise from £60 to £100, while payment of the fine within 14 days will reduce the sum to £50, up from the present £30.

Repeat offenders will see the fine double for each subsequent breach to a maximum of £3,200.

Refusing to provide police with a name and address to avoid being given a fine is an arrestable offence.