Saturday, 19 Jun 2021

New lockdown rules explained – What you can and can’t do from March 8

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stirred optimism across the country that the summer could look significantly better than the current lockdown lifestyle, with June 21 the date that is currently being earmarked as the day all restrictions will be lifted.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday afternoon, the PM did concede that a "zero-covid" approach is not viable and the UK will simply have to learn to live with the virus in the long-term.

His address to the Commons came as the UK's coronavirus death toll fell to a 10-week low of 178, along with the welcome news that the seven day average of COVID-19 cases has also fallen to 11,062, the lowest figure since October.

Here are all the key points from the Prime Minister's coronavirus briefing:

The return of schools

All school children and college students will return to classrooms from March 8.

This has long been the date marked by the government, who have given pupils and teachers alike sufficient notice to prepare for their return.

The government are set to use millions of pounds to fund a mass testing regime which will see all school children tested twice a week for the virus.

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The news of the return of schools has not been met well by everyone, with nine different teaching unions calling for a safer, staggered return rather than everyone coming back at once.

Can I meet family and friends at the park?

From March 8, two people will be permitted to meet in a park or outdoor environment.

This rule will then be relaxed further later that month when on March 29 the 'rule of six' comes into effect. This rule allows up to six people from differing households to meet outdoors.

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The number of people can actually exceed six in some circumstances, if no more than two different households are present.

Families who live in different areas of the country will also be able to travel to meet outdoors from April 12, as long as they don't enter each other's homes. This is due to the restrictions around staying in your local area also being lifted.

From May 17, two households will be able to meet up indoors – subject to the rule of six.

When can I go to the pub?

The question on everyone's lips. Brits will be permitted to enjoy a pint in a beer garden from April 12.

Pubs and restaurants will be allowed to offer outdoor seating with table service. Social distancing and the Rule of Six will remain in place.

Unsurprisingly, the 10pm curfew pubs were briefly forced to abide by has been scrapped along with rules surrounding only permitting alcohol consumption alongside a "substantial meal".

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When speaking to MPs on Monday, the Prime Minister joked: "Honourable members will be relieved there will be no curfew and the Scotch egg debate will be over as there will be no requirement for alcohol to be accompanied by a substantial meal."

May 17 is the earliest possible date where pubs will potentially be allowed to welcome customers inside.

June 21 could be a huge day for the hospitality sector, as nightclubs will potentially reopen on the same day all remaining restrictions could be lifted.

When can I get a haircut?

Many people have been waiting in anticipation to find out when they can finally get a much-needed trim, with access to a barber's or a salon denied since January.

Hairdressers will finally be open for use again on April 12.

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Can I visit other people's homes?

Though you will be able to meet friends and family members outside from March 29, you will have to wait a tad longer to see them in their home.

This is because indoor household mixing has been identified as a key driver of infection during the pandemic.

May 17 is the earliest date where we will see a return to things like overnight stays at a friends house, indoor mixing will still have to adhere to the rule of six.

Weddings & Funerals

The current lockdown ruling states how weddings are only allowed in exceptional circumstances such as if a bride or groom is terminally ill.

Funerals are still permitted to go ahead, with a maximum of 15 people present before that number dropping to 6 for the wake.

Restrictions surrounding weddings are hoped to be eased by April 12, upping the number of people allowed to attend to 15.

From May 17, the number will rise to 30 people if safe to do so and it is hoped all restrictions will be scrapped to allow unlimited guests from June 21 – however, the PM has stressed the move will be reviewed closer to the time.

Can I travel?

Currently, all travel that is deemed "non-essential" is banned. This ruling will be lifted on April 12, meaning people are allowed to travel by road and public transport to see friends and family providing they don't enter their homes or stay overnight.

April 12 is also the day we are expected to hear an update on rules surrounding international travel.

Can I buy tickets for concerts or sports fixtures?

Under current lockdown rules all professional sport is played behind closed doors.

However, as of May 17, stadiums, live venues and cinemas will be permitted to welcome fans once again, with rules on maximum capacity on numbers to help maintain social distancing.

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Outdoor stadiums will be allowed to operate at 25% capacity, meaning some Premier League teams could have fans back in their stadium for the final matchweek of the season.

Smaller outdoor events will be limited to 50 per cent capacity of up to 4,000 fans while indoor events 50% up to 1,000 people.

When can we go on Holiday?

April 12 will be a key date in everyone's calendar who is desperate for any kind of getaway, as "staycations" are permitted from this date onwards.

The rules surrounding staycations in April mean you can only go with members of your household or support bubble.

More information surrounding on travelling abroad for a summer holiday is set to come in April.

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