What lockdown rules are changing on May 17 and when is the next lockdown review?

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  • With three review dates now passed this year, what lockdown rules are changing on May 17 and when is the next lockdown review?

    May 17 will be the third stage of lifting lockdown in the UK. The last change on April 12 allowed pubs and restaurants to re-open their outdoor seating areas, gyms and swimming pools to open and non-essential retail to re-open their doors.

    Although there is always the chance that we will go back into lockdown again, the Prime Minister has stressed that there is “nothing in the present data that makes us think that we will have to deviate” from the government’s roadmap.

    What lockdown rules are changing on May 17?

    The major rule change on May 17 is the one allowing for more people to meet up outside and indoors, with the rule of six in place for inside spaces and up to thirty people allowed to meet outside.

    On May 17, social restrictions will lift to allow: 

    • Groups of six or two households to meet inside, either in a private or public space. 
    • Groups of no more than 30 people to meet outdoors. 
    • Pubs, cafes and restaurants to open their indoor spaces for seating. There are no requirements to have a substantial meal and no curfew. 
    • Gyms and leisure centres to resume indoor fitness classes, up to six people. 
    • Indoor entertainment venues, including cinemas and children’s soft play areas, to reopen. 
    • Hotels, hostels and B&Bs to accept bookings for overnight stays from groups of multiple households. 
    • Weddings, receptions, wakes and funerals with up to 30 people in attendance.
    • Performances and sporting events in outdoor venues (with a capacity of 4000 or half-full, whichever is lower).
    • Some larger performances and sporting events in indoor venues (with a capacity of 1000 people or half-full, whichever is lower). 

    In some cases, outdoor venues will be able to accommodate 10,000 people (or a quarter-full, whichever number is lower) from May 17. This will only be in outdoor seated venues, however, where crowds can “spread out”. 

    The government has also said that they’ll update the advice on social distancing. This will include advice around the one-metre plus rule, face coverings and other measures.

    They’ve added that this review will “also inform guidance on working from home” but in all cases, “until this point, people should continue to keep their distance from anyone not in their household or support bubble.”

    A change to the lockdown travel rules will also take place on this date. In May, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced the green list of countries, where travellers won’t have to quarantine on their return to the UK.

    Strict travel restrictions came into place in February this year in a bid to combat new Covid-19 variants. From this date, those coming back from countries on the government’s ‘red list’ have had to quarantine in a hotel.

    When is the next lockdown review?

    The next lockdown review is on May 17. On this date or in the days before it, the government will announce whether or not the restrictions above are lifting. 

    As per the government’s roadmap, four tests need pass for the government to lift lockdown measures. These include: 

    • The vaccination programme must continue successfully
    • Evidence must show that the vaccines are effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated
    • Infection rates must not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put “unsustainable pressure” on the NHS.  
    • The assessment of risks is not substantially impacted by new variants.

    If the government’s scientific advisors believe that all four tests have been met, the next stage of the roadmap will go ahead and these restrictions will lift. 

    After May 17, the final stage for lifting lockdown rules is meant to be on June 21.