The phased easing of Covid lockdown restrictions includes advice around overnight stays - and when people might be able to visit their second homes.
Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of a third national lockdown in England is separated into four different phases, beginning with the reopening of schools on Monday 8 March.
Non-essential shops, gyms and pub beer gardens will reopen on 12 April at the earliest; indoor hospitality and limited crowds at sports venues are scheduled to be permitted on 17 May; before it is hoped all limits on social contact are removed on 21 June.
Visiting a second home for leisure purposes is not in the first phase, as the wait goes on for Brits desperate for a break or a change of scenery.
Why were second home visits not allowed?
Under the Stay at Home guidance published on Monday 4 January as England entered a third national lockdown, overnight stays for holiday or leisure purposes were banned.
This law included people staying overnight at a second home that they might own.
The guidance reads: “You cannot leave your home or the place where you are living for holidays or overnight stays unless you have a reasonable excuse for doing so. This means that holidays in the UK and abroad are not allowed.
“This includes staying in a second home, caravan or boat, if that is not your primary residence. This also includes staying with anyone who you don’t live with unless they’re in your support bubble.”
There are exceptions to this such as visiting your support bubble, work or volunteering purposes - reasons classed as essential travel.
This decision was made in response to variants of the Covid virus pushing up infection rates throughout society, increasing hospital admissions and sadly deaths across the country.
When can I visit my second home?
Not until the second phase of the roadmap, outlined by Mr Johnson on Monday 22 February at a Downing Street press conference, will the rules allow people to make overnight stays.
This is not expected to happen until Monday 12 April at the earliest.
Overnight stays in England will be allowed in self-contained accommodation, meaning no shared bathrooms, entry/exit points, catering or sleeping facilities, for members of the same household.
At this stage of the relaxing of rules, no indoor mixing is permitted - six people or two households can meet from Monday 17 May - and the rule of six will remain in outdoor places.
It is this date in May when the rule of six outdoors will be scrapped, with a new limit of 30 people allowed to mix outside, before the restrictions are lifted altogether on Monday 21 June.
What are the important factors?
The timetable outlined by Mr Johnson is based on four factors:
- the continued success of the vaccine rollout and flow of supplies
- vaccines continues to have a positive impact in reducing the number of people dying and admitted to hospital with Covid
- infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations, which would put pressure on the NHS
- any variants of concern highlighted do not fundamentally change government's assessment of the risks