How many people can you meet outside from 17 May?

Everything you need to know about how the rules around outdoor socialising will change as England prepares to enter the next phase of the roadmap

Sophie Gallagher,Olivia Petter
Sunday 16 May 2021 14:08
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Monday 17 May sees the third stage of lockdown restrictions eased across England, after months of a third nationwide lockdown that began in January.

The roadmap, unveiled by Boris Johnson, gives a staggered timeline of dates that is hoped will end with a lift on all rules no earlier than 21 June, provided data continues to show a downward trend in cases and the vaccine rollout goes as planned.

As of this weekend, more than 35 million people in the UK have had their first dose of the vaccine, and 17 million people have had both doses.

Mr Johnson has now announced exactly how the restrictions will lift in the third stage of his roadmap.

So as the roadmap progresses, what can people expect in terms of seeing friends and family again outside from Monday 17 May?

What will the new rules be on meeting friends outside?

From Monday 17 May in England, the rules will change to allow outdoor socialising in groups of up to 30 people, where previously they had only been able to mix in groups of six or less.

This means you will be able to visit the pub and restaurants in groups of up to 30 people, provided you sit outside.

Gatherings of over 30 people outdoors will remain against the law.

What were the rules about outdoor socialising before?

Previously, people in England from different households could only mix outside in groups of six (or two households) or less.

Before that, when children went back to school for the first time in March, people were only allowed to sit down for a coffee, drink or a picnic in an outside place with one person from another household.

What about indoor socialising?

From 17 May, people will be able to resume indoor socialising for the first time in months in groups of six or less.

This means that people will be able to go to the pub or visit restaurants or other hospitality venues together and not have to stay outside.

What is the next stage of lifting after this?

On 21 June - at the earliest- the government hopes to be in a position to remove all legal limits on social contact.

This will mean that remaining premises, including nightclubs, will be permitted to reopen, and there will be no limits on how many people can socialise together. However, this depends on four tests, which are:

  • The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully
  • Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated
  • Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS
  • The assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants of the virus

If this does not happen then the promised relaxations will not necessarily go ahead as laid out in the timeline.

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