England’s legal limits on social contact set to end in June – hugs could be allowed from May


England is set to remove all legal limits on people’s social contact by 21 June, the prime minister has announced.

After schools reopen on 8 March, with some outdoor restrictions lifted by 29 March, Boris Johnson said the next step will be to reopen beer gardens and hairdressers in England from 12 April at the earliest.

Follow live coverage on Sky News as the PM addresses the Commons and as he leads a Downing Street news conference at 7pm

Setting out his roadmap for easing England’s third COVID-19 lockdown, Mr Johnson told MPs that the dates in his four-stage plan were not set in stone and were the earliest possible point at which the restrictions could be lifted.

Nevertheless, the PM has now provided full details of his long-awaited plan that foresees a significant return to normality in four months. Key dates include:

12 April at the earliest: Non-essential retail, hairdressers, nail salons, gyms and outdoor areas in hospitality venues (such as beer gardens) set to reopen – along with libraries, museums, zoos and theme parks. Self-contained accommodation will reopen, but people will only be able to stay with members of their household

17 May at the earliest: Pubs, restaurants, cinemas, hotels, B&Bs and children’s play areas set to open their doors once more, with fans allowed back into sporting events. Most rules on social contact outdoors will be lifted, while mixing of different households will be allowed indoors. Up to 30 people will be allowed at weddings, funerals, wakes, receptions and christenings

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21 June at the earliest: All legal limits on social contact set to be removed, with the remaining sectors of the economy reopened. Weddings are the only events where some restrictions may have to remain

The PM said his roadmap would “guide us cautiously but irreversibly towards reclaiming our freedoms”.

“The threat remains substantial with the numbers in hospital only now beginning to fall below the peak of the first wave in April,” Mr Johnson told the Commons.

“But we are able to take these steps because of the resolve of the British people and the extraordinary success of our NHS in vaccinating more than 17.5 million people across the UK.”

Mr Johnson has already confirmed that all pupils will return to the classroom on 8 March.

Outdoor recreation with one other person will also be allowed from that date, meaning people can sit together in a park with a coffee, drink or picnic.

From 29 March, larger groups will be able to meet outside – including in private gardens – up to a maximum of six people or two households.

Tennis courts, golf courses and other outdoor sport facilities will also reopen on 29 March, which is the first Monday of the Easter holidays for most schools.

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