Hugging set to be allowed from May 17 as next stage of restrictions easing expected to be outlined

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has said the Prime Minister will give the next stage of lockdown easing the green light tomorrow - allowing people to meet inside and indoor hospitality to resume from May 17.

Michael Gove has also said “contact between friends and family” is something the Government wants to see “restored”.

He told Sky News: "Thanks to the success of the UK vaccination programme and also the good sense of people across the UK we can progressively relax measures.

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"I anticipate that the prime minister tomorrow will signal that we can enter the next stage of relaxation in England on 17 May and as the transport secretary indicated yesterday that means also that some of the rules on international travel are changing as well."

Hugging is set to be allowed from May 17 (photo: Shutterstock)

He then told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “All being well, the Prime Minister will confirm tomorrow that there will be a relaxation, we’ve already indicated a proportionate relaxation on international travel, very limited at this stage because we have to be safe.

“In the same way, as we move into stage three of our road map it will be the case that we will see people capable of meeting indoors.

“And without prejudice to a broader review of social distancing, it is also the case that friendly contact, intimate contact, between friends and family is something we want to see restored.”

Asked if that meant hugs will be allowed again from around 17 May, he said: "Yes."

Mr Gove was also asked if pupils wearing masks in school would be coming to an end. He added: “We’re reviewing the evidence at the moment and, of course, what we want to do throughout is balance public health by making sure we can return to normal as quickly as possible.

“I won’t pre-empt that judgement, we’ll be seeing more about it shortly.”

May 17 could also see the lifting of the ban on international travel.

A number of green list countries have already been announced - these will allow quarantine-free travel with coronavirus tests taken before and after travel.

From May 17, large events and sporting fixtures will also be allowed to resume with a reduced capacity for spectators.