Lockdown rules UK: how restrictions have changed in England as country enters phase 2 - and rules on seeing family and friends

A further lifting of restrictions is to be implemented across England from June, following the government’s latest lockdown review

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced several easing of restrictions at the daily press briefing on Thursday (28 May), which will come into force on Monday 1 June.

What changes were announced?

The government’s aim is that phase 2 of lockdown will begin from 1 June, with the following to changes including the following:

The government’s aim is that the next step will be made no earlier than Monday 1 JuneThe government’s aim is that the next step will be made no earlier than Monday 1 June
The government’s aim is that the next step will be made no earlier than Monday 1 June

Seeing familiy and friends

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Family and friends in England will be allowed to meet up in parks and private gardens in groups of up to six people from different households, providing social distancing is maintained.

The rules mean people will be permitted to have a barbecue or picnic in someone’s garden, but people from different households are still not allowed to meet indoors.

However, it is acceptable to walk through a house to gain access to a garden, but a visit cannot be extended to stay overnight.

If you require use of the toilet during a visit, people are advised to wipe down and clean surfaces afterwards, to lower the risk of virus transmission.

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People who are shielding and have been asked to stay at home should continue to do so, although Professor Chris Whitty said that the infection level may be sufficiently reduced to allow their freedom “relatively soon”.

Opening non-essential retail

The Prime MInister has said outdoor markets and car showrooms will be permitted to start trading again in England from 1 June, providing customers can be kept safe.

All other non-essential retailers, including shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books, and electronics, plus tailors, auction houses, photography studios, and indoor markets, will be allowed to follow suit and reopen to customers two weeks later, from 15 June.

A phased return for schools

Schools could begin to reopen from 1 June, with the government expecting pupils to be able to return to early years settings, and for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to be back in school in smaller sizes, from this point.

When will visiting family and friends indoors be allowed?

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Currently, the visitng friends and family indoors is still not allowed, although the government is considering a range of options to help ease social restrictions further

The government has asked SAGE to examine whether it can safely change regulations to allow people to expand their household group to include another household in the same exclusive group.

The intention of this would be to allow those who are isolated some more social contact, as well as supporting some families to return to work, by permitting the sharing of childcare.

This could be based on the New Zealand model of household "bubbles" where a single "bubble" is the people you live with.

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As in New Zealand, the rationale behind keeping household groups small is to limit the number of social contacts people have and to limit the risk of interhousehold transmissions.

What rules have changes elsewhere in the UK?

Scotland will begin a gradual relaxation of its rules from Friday (29 May), with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon permitting groups of up to eight people to meet outdoors, providing they keep two metres apart.

Scots will also be allowed to play more outdoor sports and visit garden centres, although people are still being encouraged to “stay at home” as much as possible.

In Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford is expected to announce that outdoor meet-ups will be permitted from Monday (1 June), although guidance recommends people don’t travel more than five miles.

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In Northern Ireland, there are plans to ease some restrictions from 8 June, including allowing large retail stores to reopen.

Groups of up to six people who do not share a household are already allowed to meet up outdoors, with social distancing in place, and people can drive to outdoor spaces for exercise.