Daughter hugging mum as lockdown rules change to allow overnight stays with family

When can I stay overnight with family again? It's a question that many people have been asking, since the lockdown rules changed on May 17.  

The latest step in the lockdown roadmap has allowed more people to meet up indoors and outside. It's meant that families can see each other in their back gardens, in restaurants and even in their own homes for the first time since Christmas last year.

But can families now visit each other overnight? With fresh concerns over a new variant, this is what you need to know about overnight stays following a change in the rules.

When can I stay overnight with family in England?

Following the rule change on May 17, overnight stays with family are now allowed. This includes anyone who is not part of your household or your support bubble, under the government's guidance for lifting lockdown.

From this date, six people or two households (of any number) can meet inside. This can either be in a public space, such as a hotel or B&B (under the rule of six) or a private space, such as someone's home. Up to 30 people can mix outdoors as well, as long as social distancing guidelines remain in place.

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 next change happened on April 12, when pubs and restaurants opened their outdoor areas under the rule of six. Members of the same household could also go on holiday together from this date, with campsites and caravans reopening again across the country.

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Along with the changes to social restrictions at home, the latest change in the rules on May 17 allowed for international travel to open up again. While vaccine passports are still being considered by the government, a green list of countries was announced. For the first time, family holidays for summer 2021 started to look like a possibility.

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, distancing and people won't have to wear face coverings after this date. However, this is pending reviews by the government.

If we go into another lockdown in the future - even a short, sharp circuit breaker lockdown - this is one of the restrictions that's likely to be reinforced.

Current rules on staying overnight

You now do not need a "reasonable excuse" to stay overnight with family, friends or people who live outside your household or support bubble. As long as there are up to six people or two households, the gathering is legal.

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

There were very limited circumstances where overnight stays were permitted. However, the government advice on the issue was clear: "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."

Mother and daughter taking a selfie together

Credit: Getty

When can I stay overnight with family in Scotland?

In most areas of Scotland, families can stay overnight with each other from May 17.

With the exception of Glasgow and Moray, most of Scotland moved into level two restrictions from this May date. In level two, people can meet up inside each other's homes in groups of up to six people from up to three different households. They can also stay overnight at each other's homes.

In Scotland, unlike England, children under the age of 21 are not included in the rule of six. They do count in the limit of households, however.

As of April 26, restrictions on non-essential travel between Scotland and the rest of the UK has also been lifted. This means that there won't be any travel restrictions preventing people coming into Scotland from other parts of the UK and vice versa.

When are the rules changing in Wales?

Those living in Wales won't be able to meet others indoors from May 17, as the country is still in level three.

Mother and daughter sitting outside

Credit: Getty

In general, people from different households "must not come into your home unless you have formed an extended household with them," guidance from the Welsh government says.

When can I stay overnight with family in Northern Ireland?

Those living in Northern Ireland are also not allowed to stay overnight with family. This includes only people from outside of their household or mix indoors with others.

These restrictions will once again be reviewed on June 10.

Grace Walsh
Features Writer

Grace Walsh is a health and wellbeing writer, working across the subjects of family, relationships, and LGBT topics, as well as sleep and mental health. A digital journalist with over six years  experience as a writer and editor for UK publications, Grace is currently Health Editor for womanandhome.com and has also worked with Cosmopolitan, Red, The i Paper, GoodtoKnow, and more. After graduating from the University of Warwick, she started her career writing about the complexities of sex and relationships, before combining personal hobbies with professional and writing about fitness.