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Socially distanced gatherings: Everything you need to keep them fun

As of 4 July, lockdown measures will be relaxed and the number of people you can meet outside your household will increase – here's how to keep everyone entertained

From the games to play outdoors to creating an at-home cinema – here's how to have fun while seeing friends and family
From the games to play outdoors to creating an at-home cinema – here's how to have fun while seeing friends and family

Boris Johnson has outlined the next stage in the government's roadmap to easing lockdown.

Since 1 June, people in England have been allowed to meet up in groups of up to six people from different households, in communal outdoor spaces or in private gardens.

On 23 June, the prime minister announced that from Saturday 4 July, the ban on people from different households meeting indoors will be eased in England. Families and friends will be able to visit each other's homes. He also confirmed that the social distancing rule will be reduced from 2m to 1m.

There is no limit on how many people can gather indoors or out, as long as they are from two different households and social distancing measures are followed. There will also be no ban on meeting other households, as long as only two households meet at any given time.

Two households will also be able to go on holiday together in shared accommodation or neighbouring tents, provided social distancing rules are observed.

Shielding measures in England, which have confined 2.2 million people inside their homes during lockdown, will also be lifted. These people will be able to meet others in outdoor spaces in groups of up to six as of 6 July, and from August, people will no longer be asked to shield.

The government also revealed that the hospitality industry will begin to reopen, as pubs and restaurants can start welcoming customers back from 4 July. And cultural life will also restart with museums, art galleries and cinemas reopening from the same date, as well as hairdressers. Although, you'll have to wait a little longer to visit "close-contact" venues, such as nightclubs and indoor gyms.

Similarly to England, Scotland will relax its 2m rule for some premises to open on 10 July. Physical distancing will no longer apply to most children aged 11 and under while they are outdoors, but it is still encouraged that people should remain at 2m from other households.

As for Wales, people from two different households can meet in open spaces and private gardens but must adhere to social distancing measures. There is no restriction on the number of people who can gather at any one time, but meeting more than one household is illegal.

Now that you’re able to meet up with bigger groups of friends and family, it’s worth considering how you’re going to keep everyone entertained. It's out with the virtual pub quizzes and in with the games, picnics and barbecues. Roll on summer.

To help give you some inspiration, we've compiled a list of things you can do outdoors that will keep everyone occupied – from creating a home cinema to the best outdoor games you can play.

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Outdoor games

Whether it’s a trip to the park or you’re congregating in your garden, there's no better way to keep everyone entertained than with a selection of outdoor games. And over recent months, spending time outside has taken on a new level of importance. When choosing what to go for, opt for something that offers plenty of opportunities and is age inclusive.

The Decathlon geologic soft archery set (Decathlon, £34.99) took the top spot in our review of outdoor games. With our reviewer noting that it has “many winning factors; it’s portable, the target simply doubles up as a carry case, it’s easy to assemble” and surprisingly addictive. You can adapt the difficulty of the game by changing distances, so it’s suitable for someone of every age.

If you're looking to add a little competition to your time spent with friends and family, that isn't a virtual pub quiz, the Professor Puzzle sports day kit (WHSmith, £18) is also a great option. The kit contains two bean bags, two rubber eggs and wooden spoons, two batons, two three-legged race bands and two chalks. There are 50 games to play, so you’re getting a lot for your money.

Create a cinema experience in your garden

If you’ve caught up with friends and the conversation is running dry after months of lockdown, creating an outdoor cinema in your garden is a fun way to fill the silence. And while cinemas are set to open on 4 July, the weather is heating up, so enjoy the longer evenings and settle in for a film night.

The essential item to your at-home cinema experience is the projector. For something portable, lightweight and affordable there’s no better option than this Toptro mini projector (Amazon, £119.99). It delivers clear images in 1080P full HD and is equipped with hifi stereo system four-way surround sound, making it a great way to stream old school classics, as well as the new releases you might not have seen.

Once you’ve got your projector sorted, assemble the screen – this can be done with a plain white bed sheet. Read more on how to set it up properly in our guide to creating the perfect at-home cinema, which also includes tips on the best streaming service to use and how to create a cosy seating area.

It’s also worth investing in a Bluetooth speaker for the occasion. Sonos is the powerhouse when it comes to wifi streaming audio, so it’s no surprise that the Sonos move (Argos, £399) Bluetooth speaker came out top in our review.

The great thing about it is it’s 10-hour battery life and portability, so you can even take it to the park should you wish.

Get grilling

If you’re hosting friends and family in your garden, it’s worth thinking about what food you’re going to offer your hungry guests.

The grill also works with Weber’s new iGrill 3 “smart” thermometer, which means you can keep on top of how your meat is cooking via an app on your phone (The

With the weather heating up, it’s time to dust off the barbecue in favour of alfresco dining.

The Weber spirit II E-320 (Riverside Garden Centre, £630) topped our test of the best gas barbecues. A gas barbecue is far quicker than grilling on charcoal and means you won't get your hands dirty either.

This Weber option has the added bonus of the side burner, which means you can simmer sauces in a 10in pan or even fry some onions to go with your sausages. The foldable side table an also be collapsed after use, reducing its footprint. The grill also works with Weber's new iGrill 3 "smart" thermometer, which means you can keep on top of how well your meat is cooking via an app on your phone.

If, like us, you enjoy sourcing your meat from sustainable farmers – our guide to the best meat boxes from ethical farms will help you keep your eco-friendly credentials, even when feeding a crowd. Knepp Wild Meat offers a build-your-own meat box scheme and came out top in our review.

Our tester said: "The meat is as full of flavour as it is nutritionally rich. You have to taste it to believe it." You can't argue with that, so source your 100 per cent pure beef burgers (Knepp Wild Meat, £4) directly from this ethical farm.

For more ideas, check out our IndyBest guide on how to host the ultimate barbecue at home. It includes everything you need – from the tools to use to the alcohol to buy.

Have a picnic

If you're planning a socially distanced gathering in the park, prepare a picnic to take with you.

For transporting your food and drinks seamlessly from A to B, the Hydro flask unbound series cooler pack 15 coolbox (Alpine Trek, £197.95) topped our test of the best cool bags. Not only will it keep your sandwiches out of the heat, but it'll also keep your tinnies ice cold, too.

To be a real crowd-pleaser, buy some pre-mixed cocktails for the occasion. Bloody Drinks bloody classic (Bloody Drinks, from £16) came out top in our test of the best. Our tester said: "If you think bar-standard tinned cocktails aren’t possible, the bloody classic will defy your expectations".

If you're not a fan of Bloody Mary's – try the East London Liquour Company RTD variety pack (East London Liquour Company, £20 for 12-pack). Without preservatives and artificial flavours or colours, level up your gin-in-a-tin experience with its London dry grapefruit-infused G&T (5% ABV). You won't regret it.

Some parks and outdoor spaces allow you to use a portable barbecue. If your local outdoor space does, then try this Bioloite campstove 2 bundle (Millets, £45), which scored the top spot in our review of best portable barbecues.

Heralded as one of the most ingenious barbecues our tester had ever tried, this is not one to miss. The stove works off twigs and sticks, and generates electricity as it does so. This means you can plug your phone into the stove to recharge it, and power the attachable light for when darkness hits at the park.

Dining en plein does take a little bit of planning, so for extra inspiration, read our guide to creating a picnic fit for your family.

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