When can I stay overnight with family?

Many people haven't been able to see their family properly in almost a year.
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  • When can I stay overnight with family again? It’s a question that many people have been asking, since lockdown has prevented household mixing since December last year.

    The latest step in the lockdown roadmap has allowed for more people to meet up outside. While it has meant that families can see each other in their back gardens, they’re still not allowed to see each other indoors. This has been the case since Christmas last year when those in tiers one to three were allowed to spend the holiday together. But even then, those in tier four were told not to visit anyone they didn’t live with.

    Lockdown rules are changing on May 17 and importantly, this is the time when most of the social restrictions are being lifted.

    When can I stay overnight with family in England?

    Overnight stays with anyone who is not part of your household or support bubble are not allowed until May 17 2021 at the earliest, under the government’s guidance for lifting lockdown. 

    From this date, six people or two households will be able to meet inside. This can either be a public space, such as a pub or restaurant (under the rule of six), or an indoor space such as someone’s home. Up to 30 people can mix outdoors as well, as long as social distancing guidelines remain in place.

    Family seeing each other inside

    Credit: Getty

    This has been England’s longest lockdown and it’s being lifted slowly in four stages. The first two stages have already taken place, starting with pupils returning to school on March 8. Later in the month, two households and up to six people were able to meet outdoors in a public space – such as a park. 

    The latest change happened on April 12, when pubs and restaurants opened their outdoor areas under the rule of six. Members of the same household can now also go on holiday together, with campsites and caravans reopening again across the country.

    Along with changes to the social restrictions, a green list of countries has been announced by the government for travel. After May 17, the next date for lifting further lockdown restrictions will be June 21 at the earliest. It’s hoped that there will be no restrictions on social mixing or distancing after this date. However, this is pending reviews by the government.

    Current rules on staying overnight

    Before May 17, it’s not legal to stay overnight with another household. Support bubbles are still in place to allow for those who meet the criteria to mix indoors with others, though.

    There are very limited circumstances where overnight stays are permitted. “You cannot leave your home or the place where you are living for holidays or overnight stays unless you have a reasonable excuse for doing so,” guidance on the government’s website reads. “This means that holidays in the UK and abroad are not allowed. This includes staying in a second home, caravan or boat, if that is not your primary residence.

    Mother and daughter taking a selfie together

    Credit: Getty

    “This also includes staying with anyone who you don’t live with unless they’re in your support bubble.”

    While vaccine passports for those fully inoculated are still being considered by the government, it’s still illegal until May 17 to travel outside the UK for non-essential reasons – which includes seeing family.

    The government has offered the following reasons as an “acceptable excuse” to stay overnight: 

    • Staying with your support bubble
    • If you can’t, for whatever reason, return to your main residence
    • Staying in overnight accommodation while moving house
    • If you need accommodation to attend a funeral or related event
    • If you need accommodation for work purposes or to offer voluntary services
    • Children who require accommodation for school or care
    •  If you are homeless, seeking asylum, a vulnerable person seeking refuge, or if escaping harm – including domestic abuse.
    • If you are an elite athlete or their support staff or parent and the athlete is under 18 where it is necessary to be outside of the home for training or competition

    Only under these conditions are stays overnight with family permitted while the remainder of the third lockdown rules are still in place.

    When can I stay overnight with family in Scotland?

    Under the Scottish roadmap, families will be able to stay overnight from May 17.

    Mother and daughter sitting outside

    Credit: Getty

    At the moment in Scotland, people can meet in groups of six from six different households in outdoor settings. As well as this, people in Scotland are allowed to travel across the country – but they can’t stay overnight.

    As of April 26, restrictions on non-essential travel between Scotland and the rest of the UK has been lifted. This means that when restrictions allow for families to stay overnight, there won’t be any travel restrictions preventing this from happening in Scotland.

    When are the rules changing in Wales?

    The next step out of lockdown for Wales will come on May 3, but this won’t allow for families to stay overnight.

    However, people can create extended households. This means that two households can come together to form an exclusive social bubble, without need to meet the support bubble criteria. The extended household can meet up either outside or indoors and have contact as if they lived in the same household.

    More information is then expected on May 13, when the next stage of the Welsh roadmap will be announced.

    Happy father and adult daughter hugging on a garden party

    Credit: Getty

    When can I stay overnight with family in Northern Ireland?

    Currently, those living in Northern Ireland aren’t allowed to stay overnight with family. This is expected to happen in phase three of the lockdown roadmap, which hasn’t been given a date yet.

    Similarly to the plan for Wales, the next stage of the lockdown lifting will be announced on May 13.