Week Ahead: COVID-19 rules relaxed, Shavuot and return of Eurovision and Worthy Farm

The last step towards freedom takes place before the planned final relaxation of coronarvirus restrictions late next month. John Blow looks at the week ahead.

Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Witty speaks during a press conference about coronavirus inside 10 Downing Street in London on March 9, 2020. Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images.

Restrictions lift

Yorkshire and other parts of the UK will tomorrow regain something approaching freedom as coronavirus restrictions are further eased.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this week confirmed that the country could proceed with ‘step three’ and relax more rules after various criteria were reached.

It means that up to 30 people can meet outside, while two households or groups of up to six people will be allowed to mix indoors.

Crowds of up to 10,000 in the largest venues will be allowed at performances and sporting events, meaning football and rugby stadiums can welcome fans again.

People will also be able to hug loved ones.

It is the last stage of lifting restrictions before June 21, when it is hoped that all measures aimed at stemming the virus nationally will go for good.

Modelling has shown that England’s infections would increase across the country, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said, but it is “highly unlikely to put unsustainable pressure” on the NHS, the group concluded at its meeting last week.

However new variants of the virus which causes Covid-19 can “come out of a blue sky”, England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty warned, after figures showed a rise in infections in the UK with the variant of the virus first found in India.

Data presented at the Downing Street Covid-19 press conference last Monday showed that 520 cases of the variant had been identified in the UK up to May 5 – 318 more than the week before.

Nevertheless, Mr Johnson said: “This unlocking amounts to a very considerable step on the road map to normality and I am confident that we will be able to go further.”

Jewish celebration

Shavuot – the Jewish Feast of Weeks - will start tonight.

It is one of the Jewish harvest festivals, also known as the festival or feast of Weeks and takes place seven weeks (fifty days) after the first day of the spring festival of Passover.

Shavuot also marks the time that the Jews were given the Torah on Mount Sinai. Synagogues are decorated with flowers and plants to remember the flowers of Mount Sinai, while observers also enjoy dairy foods.

Eurovision and 'Glasto' return

Families are set to gather around television sets in traditional style to watch the final of the Eurovision Song Contest.

The annual singing contest is scheduled to take place in Rotterdam in the coming week, with semi-finals happening on Tuesday and Thursday before the final on Saturday.

Singer-songwriter James Newman will represent the UK. He had been set to appear at last year’s contest before it was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Ireland’s entry will be Lesley Roy, who was also due to compete in 2020.

The final will air on BBC One on at 8pm in a special programme hosted by Graham Norton. It will also be broadcast on BBC Radio 2 in a programme hosted by Ken Bruce.

The BBC’s director of entertainment Kate Phillips said: “After a year without the live contest, we can’t wait for it to return bigger and better.”

Meanwhile, some of the biggest musical acts in the world will also perform at Live At Worthy Farm.

Coldplay, Damon Albarn, Haim, Idles, Jorja Smith and Wold Alice are among the artists performing for ticketholders from sites around the farm, including the Pyramid field, after

Glastonbury itself was cancelled for a second year.

The livestream is taking place on Saturday and Sunday.

Festival organiser Michael Eavis, 85, narrates.