Lockdown restrictions are gradually being eased in parts of the UK. But what does this mean and can you finally meet up with more family and friends?
Who am I allowed to meet?
From Monday in England, you will be able to meet up to six people from different households outside – either in parks or now also in private gardens – as long as you remain 2m (6ft) apart. For example, you could have a barbecue in someone’s back garden.
From Friday in Scotland, two separate households – up to a maximum of eight people – can meet outdoors, in a park or private garden. Social distancing rules still apply.
It means, for example, you could have a picnic in the park, or play a non-contact sport like tennis, golf or basketball, observing social distancing.
While people from different households are still not allowed to meet indoors, you can go through a house to access a garden. But you can’t extend your visit to stay overnight.
However, if you needed to do something like use the toilet during a visit, you would need to wipe down and clean everything afterwards, to lower the risk of transmission of the virus.
Meanwhile, anyone who is shielding and has been asked to stay at home should continue to do so.
In Wales, the BBC understands that people from two different households will be able to meet each other outdoors from Monday.
What could the next steps be?
- From Monday, some primary schools will reopen, followed by non-essential shops two weeks later
- From Friday – in addition to families and friends meeting outdoors at a distance – people will be able to play some sports and visit garden centres. Councils are also due to reopen their recycling centres
- However First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is still urging people to “stay at home” as much as possible
- First Minister Mark Drakeford will announce the possible easing of lockdown restrictions on Friday. Rubbish tips have started to reopen – along with garden centres
- People have also been told they can take unlimited local exercise – but not yet with anyone from outside of their own household
- There are plans to ease some coronavirus restrictions from Monday 8 June – including the reopening of large retail stores
- Groups of up to six people who do not share a household can meet outdoors, with social-distancing measures in place. People can also drive to a safe space for exercise
What else could happen?
The government is considering whether to allow two households in England to socialise with each other, provided neither side mixes with other groups.
Known as a ”social bubble”, this would allow more social contact, and an opportunity to share childcare, while hopefully limiting transmission.
It is also looking at ways small weddings could be allowed to take place.
This coronavirus appears to thrive in crowded, indoor spaces which is why pubs, restaurants and many workplaces remain closed and the public has been advised against using public transport.
But transmission of viruses is less likely when ”fresh” air is involved – and that’s usually when people are outside.
Why is social distancing necessary?
Social distancing is important because coronavirus spreads when an infected person coughs small droplets – packed with the virus – into the air.
These can be breathed in, or can cause an infection if you touch a surface they have landed on, and then touch your face with unwashed hands.
What is self-isolation?
If you show symptoms of coronavirus – such as a dry cough and high temperature – you must take extra precautions.
You should stay at home and not leave it for any reason. This is known as self-isolation.
You should not leave your property even to buy food or medicine, and instead order these online, or ask someone to drop them off at your home.
If the NHS Test and Trace team in England gets in touch because you’ve been close to someone who has tested positive for coronavirus, you will have to self-isolate for up to 14 days – even if you feel fine.
The people you live with don’t have to self-isolate, but they must take extra care regarding social distancing and hand washing.
What about those who are clinically vulnerable?
The advice is different for those who have certain underlying health conditions, are pregnant or are over 70, making them clinically vulnerable.
They are more likely to be seriously affected by coronavirus and should stay at home as much as possible, minimising contact with others if they go outside.
Those who have serious underling health conditions, are thought to be ”clinically extremely vulnerable” and should remain ”shielding” at home.
Food and medicine should be dropped off at the door, or ordered online. GP appointments should be over the phone, or online.
Others in the same household, and carers, can go out as long they observe proper social distancing.