The government’s cautious roadmap out of the coronavirus lockdown has reached its first stage this week, as students returned to the classroom and care homes allow regular indoor visitors for residents.
But there are still tight restrictions around social contact, which are not expected to ease until 29 March at the earliest.
The rules around meeting one other person from another household have relaxed slightly since 8 March. Currently, people can meet one person from outside their household in a public outdoor space for a coffee or picnic – this compares to previous rules which only allowed meeting for exercise.
But limited changes to the restrictions from 29 March will allow people to meet in groups of six from multiple households, or an unlimited number from just two households.
These gatherings can only take place in public outdoor spaces or private gardens.
In the previous lockdown, the rule of six was stricter and led to larger families being penalised for exceeding the limit. But this has been altered to allow for “greater flexibility”, said the government, as it recognises “the different situations faced by families and individuals”.
“Two households will be more helpful for families, while the Rule of 6 is likely to help people in different households to reunite outdoors, including those living alone or in shared accommodation,” said the government.
However, social distancing rules will still apply to people from different households, even while meeting outside. People are also urged to minimise how frequently they socialise with other households to keep the risk of transmission as low as possible.
These restrictions will remain in place as hospitality venues start to open up from 12 April, which means the rule of six will apply to groups eating in restaurants and pub gardens with outdoor seating.
No indoor mixing is allowed except for a very limited number of reasons, such as support bubbles or providing essential care.
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