Boris hailed what he called a “very considerable step on the road back to normality” at a Downing Street press briefing this evening, outlining what he’s graciously going to “allow” us to do from May 17th. MailOnline has more.
Pints inside the pub are back from Monday, along with hugs for friends and family and staycations, Boris Johnson said tonight. …
But he urged people to be cautious, saying the country must remain “vigilant” about fuelling cases and the threat from variants.
When the next stage in the roadmap is reached groups of six or two households will be allowed to meet indoors for the first time in months.
Overnight visits will also be allowed, while outdoors the limit will rise to 30 in the most significant loosening yet.
Staycations can also get properly up and running, with hotels and B&Bs that do not have self-catering facilities permitted to open – as well as cinemas and theatres if audiences wear masks.
Crucially the government has decided the risk is now low enough that social distancing can be left more to “personal choice” – meaning that while people are urged to be ‘cautious’, hugs are allowed at private gatherings.
However, despite the very low infection rate and stunning vaccine rollout, social distancing rules will still be maintained at bars and restaurants.
Together with a requirement for table service indoors it means many venues will still struggle to make ends meet.
Advice to work from home where possible will also stay in place.
In other elements of the changes from next week, the much-criticised cap on the number of mourners at funerals will be lifted, while up to 30 people will be allowed at weddings and other life events.
Indoor sport and exercise classes can restart, along with sauna and steamrooms. And secondary pupils will no longer need to wear masks at schools in England.
In a huge relief for many isolated elderly people and their families, care home residents will be able to have up to five named visitors – and up to two at once provided they are tested and follow guidelines. Residents will also have greater freedom to leave homes without having to isolate afterwards.
Worth reading in full.
During the announcement, Boris thanked the public for their commitment and said infections were now at the “lowest level since last July”. That’s also true of Covid deaths in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, with zero being recorded in the last 24 hours in all three nations. MailOnline has more on that, too.
The UK has confirmed another 2,357 coronavirus cases and four deaths – all four in Wales – as the country’s Covid alert level was downgraded from four to three, suggesting the virus is ‘in general circulation’ and not rising.
Both figures mark increases on last Monday’s numbers, although that was a bank holiday and the counts are so low that even relatively small changes can appear to have a big effect. The longer-term trend remains flat.
July 30 was the last time that the reported death count was zero and the return marks a huge milestone after England’s toll peaked at 1,243 at the height of the second wave on January 19. The figure includes only death certificates processed yesterday; it does not mean that nobody died of Covid.
Worth reading in full.
Stop Press: Telegraph Science Editor Sarah Knapton has interviewed a number of scientists, including Prof. Carl Heneghan, to ask them whether we really need to wait until June 21st before reopening in full. One of those in favour of reopening sooner is Dr. Jason Oke of the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford. He said: “We are rapidly approaching the figure required for population immunity, if we haven’t already reached that point. Even the modellers who have been the most pessimistic in the past have revised their concerns about another wave in the summer.”