Full list of Covid rules changes in England from 29 March - including social contact and travel

The “stay at home” order will come to an end on 29 March (Photo: Shutterstock)
The “stay at home” order will come to an end on 29 March (Photo: Shutterstock)

Lockdown restrictions in England will be eased from 29 March, with the rule changes coinciding with the start of the Easter holidays.

The easing of restrictions from Monday (29 March) will see the “stay at home” order come to an end, with the government instead asking being to “stay local” where possible.

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Rules on social contact and outdoor activities will also be relaxed, giving people more freedom to meet up since the strict national lockdown was imposed in early January.

Here are all the changes you need to know.

How many people can I meet?

From Monday (29 March), people will be allowed to meet outdoors either in a group of six, or as two households.

This includes meetings in private gardens, as well as outdoor public areas, making it easier for friends and family to meet outside.

People who are in a support bubble will count as part of the same household, but those who are not should continue to socially distance from each other.

Social gatherings indoors are still not allowed under the current rules.

What about outdoor activities?

Outdoor sports facilities, such as tennis and basketball courts, golf courses and open-air swimming pools, will also be allowed to reopen from 29 March.

Rules will also allow people to take part in formally organised outdoor sports.

Where can I travel?

The “stay at home” order will come to an end on 29 March, although strict travel restrictions will still apply.

The government is instead urging people to “stay local”, with guidance stating that travel should continue to be minimised wherever possible.

People are advised to carry on working from home where they can and keep journeys to a minimum, avoiding travel at the busiest times and routes.

Travel abroad will continue to be prohibited, with the exception of a small number of legally permitted reasons.

Holidays abroad are also banned in an effort to manage the risk of new Covid-19 variants from entering the country.

New Covid-19 regulations will also come into effect in England and Wales from Monday (29 March) which make it illegal to leave the UK without a reasonable excuse.

Those who break the rules risk being issued with a £5,000 fine.

The travel ban does not apply to those going to the common travel area of the Channel Islands, Isle of Man and the Republic of Ireland, unless that is not the final destination.

There are only a small number of exemptions for which travel is allowed, including for work, study, moving house, attending a funeral, wedding or birth, for medical appointments, for legal obligations, or to escape risk of harm.

The rules prohibiting foreign travel will be reviewed by a new government task force, which is expected to report on 12 April at the earliest.

In Scotland, it is currently illegal to travel abroad for holidays and other leisure purposes. The Scottish government has said that foreign travel will not be possible before 17 May and maybe for some time after.

Similarly, in Northern Ireland it is illegal to travel outside the Common Travel Area (UK, Republic of Ireland (ROI), Isle of Man and Channel Islands), unless you have a legally permitted reason to do so.

Rules state that you can only travel abroad if you have an essential reason to do so and you must not travel abroad on holiday.

Road map subject to changes

The government has stressed that the proposed dates for easing lockdown restrictions are subject to change, with any alterations to be driven by data and science.

The easing of rules is subject to four key tests, including:

  • 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
  • assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern

Ministers have stressed in the face of recent news of vaccine supply issues to the UK that the road map plans remain unaffected.