(COVID-19) Coronavirus restrictions - changes from 17th May:

  • Indoor hospitality can reopen and indoor entertainment can resume, including cinemas, museums, and children’s play areas.
  • Up to 6 people or 2 households will be able to meet indoors and up to 30 people outdoors.
  • All remaining outdoor entertainment can reopen, such as outdoor cinemas and performances. Some larger events will be able to take place, including conferences, theatre and concert performances, and sports events. Restrictions on the number of attendees will remain as set out in the Roadmap.
  • Guidance on meeting family and friends will be updated. The public can make informed, personal decisions on close contact, such as hugging, with their friends and family. Close contact continues to carry a risk of catching or spreading COVID-19, and people must consider the risk to themselves and to others. COVID-secure rules remain for the workplace and businesses, such as in shops and hospitality.
  • The Transport Secretary has confirmed that international travel can begin to safely reopen from 17 May, allowing people to go on foreign holidays to ‘green’ list countries. Strict border control measures will remain in place, including pre-departure tests and a PCR test on or before day two of their arrival back in the UK.
  • Face coverings will no longer be needed in classrooms or for students in communal areas in secondary schools and colleges. Twice weekly home testing will remain to control infection rates.
  • All remaining university students will be eligible to return to in-person teaching and learning from May 17, and should get tested twice a week upon return.
  • Up to 30 people will now be able to attend weddings, receptions, and commemorative events including wakes, as well as standalone life-cycle events. These can take place outdoors or at any indoor Covid secure venue that is permitted to open. The number of people able to attend a funeral will be determined by the number that can be safely accommodated in the venue with social distancing in place.
  • 30 people will be able to attend a support group or parent and child group. The limit will not apply to children under 5.
  • Organised adult sport and exercise classes can resume indoors and saunas and steam rooms may reopen.
  • Care homes residents will be able to have up to five named visitors, with two visitors able to attend at once provided they are tested and follow infection control measures. Residents will also have greater freedoms to leave their home without having to isolate on their return.

Full government guidance on what you can and cannot do, updated with changes from 17th May

The Roadmap is on track and planned Step 3 easements will go ahead on 17 May, the Prime Minister has confirmed.

The data shows that the government’s “four tests” for easing restrictions have been met. Infection rates are at their lowest level since September, while hospital admissions and patients in hospital continue to decrease - with levels now similar to July last year.

Hospital admissions and cases of severe illness also remain in line with modelling provided by scientific experts for the Roadmap.

From the 17 May, the majority of the indoor and remaining outdoor economy can reopen, and gathering limits will increase indoors and outdoors. Guidance for close contact between friends and family will be updated, with people exercising their own personal judgement in line with the risks. The Stay in the UK restriction will be lifted and people will be able to travel to green list countries, if they permit inbound travel.

The Prime Minister continued to urge caution. The aim of the Roadmap is to be cautious but irreversible and unlocking too fast, too soon, risks a resurgence of the virus.

The assessment to move to Step 3 was based on four tests:

  • The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully
  • Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated
  • Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS
  • Our assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.

As set out in the Roadmap, 4 weeks is needed to fully understand the impact of each step. The Government also committed to provide a further weeks’ notice to businesses.

The successful vaccination rollout continues, with over 35 million people receiving at least one dose, and nearly 18 million receiving both doses. One quarter of all adults have now received the strongest protection available.

The latest data shows that the estimated reduction in symptomatic disease is 60% and hospitalisations 80% for one dose of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine for people aged 80 and over. Data published by PHE today estimates that for the over 80s, two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine reduces the risk of hospitalisation by 93%.

Step 4 is due to take place no earlier than 21 June. Further detail on Step 4 will be set out at the end of the month.

Statement by Prime Minister Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP

Good afternoon, I want to begin by thanking everyone again for your patience and for the sacrifices you’ve been making - businesses, pubs and restaurants that have been waiting to welcome customers back through their doors. Grandparents who have gone for months without seeing their grandchildren, weddings postponed, funerals sadly constrained, and religious festivals – such as Eid – yet again facing restrictions. And I want to thank you because your efforts have so visibly paid off giving us the time to vaccinate more than two thirds of all adults across the UK with more than one third – nearly 18 million people - also receiving their second dose – and thereby unquestionably saving many lives. So it is precisely because of your efforts, that I can confirm today we have met our four tests for further easing the lockdown in England. Chris will run through the details in a minute, but with deaths and hospitalisations at their lowest levels since last July, and the UK’s four Chief Medical Officers today agreeing a reduction in the alert level, the data now support moving to step 3 in England from next Monday 17th May.

This means the Rule of Six or two households that has applied outdoors, will now apply indoors and the limit for outdoor meetings will increase to 30. From next Monday you will be able to sit inside a pub and inside a restaurant. You’ll be able to go to the cinema and children will be able to use indoor play areas. We’re re-opening hostels, hotels, and B&Bs. We’ll re-open the doors of our theatres, concert halls and business conference centres and unlock the turnstiles of our sports stadia, subject to capacity limits. And from next week everyone will be able to travel within Britain and stay overnight, meaning schools will also be able to organise trips with overnight stays. We will no longer require face coverings in classrooms – or for students in communal areas in secondary schools and colleges. 

All remaining University students will be able to return to in-person teaching, where they should be tested twice a week. We will increase the number of named visitors for those in care homes from two to five, and residents will have greater freedoms to leave their home without having to isolate on their return. 

This unlocking amounts to a very considerable step on the road back to normality and I am confident we will be able to go further. Subject to the impact of step 3 on the data, we remain on track to move to step 4 on 21st June and to give businesses more time to prepare, we’ll be saying more later this month about exactly what the world will look like and what role there could be – if any – for certification and social distancing. And today we are taking a step towards that moment when we learn to live responsibly with Covid – when we cease eventually to rely on detailed government edicts, and make our own decisions – based on the best scientific advice - about how to protect our families and those around us.

So from next Monday we are updating the guidance on close contact between friends and family, setting out the risks for everyone to make their own choices. This does not mean we can suddenly throw caution to the winds. In fact, more than a year into this pandemic, we all know that close contact, such as hugging, is a direct way of transmitting this disease. 

So I urge you to think about the vulnerability of your loved ones - whether they have had a vaccine, one or two doses, and whether there has been time for that vaccine to take effect. Remember outdoors is always safer than indoors. And if you are meeting indoors, remember to open a window and let in the fresh air. Keep getting tested regularly, even if you don’t have symptoms, so you don’t spread the virus without knowing it. And whatever you decide, I must ask that you continue to follow social distancing when not with friends and family including in workplaces, shops, pubs, restaurants and other settings. We only have to look at the very sad situation in other countries to see the lethal potential of this virus and we must continue to fight the spread of variants here in the UK. 

While we have no evidence yet to believe these variants are completely vaccine resistant, we must remain vigilant. So please remember hands, face, space and fresh air. And as we mark Mental Health Awareness week, perhaps also take a moment to check in on friends and family and see how they are doing after all that we have been through together, or if you are struggling yourself, get the support you need.

Today we are announcing the single biggest step on our roadmap and it will allow us to do many of the things we’ve yearned to do for a long time. So let’s protect these gains by continuing to exercise caution and common sense.