However, crucially, these meetings are only allowed outside – indoor mixing of households is still strictly barred. Outdoor settings both public and private – such as a garden – are allowed.
This makes it easier for friends and families to get together over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend.
Those in a support bubble will count as part of the same household, but people from different households will still need to socially distance from each other. Businesses, including hospitality, remain closed.
As a result of the easing of the “Stay Home” guidance, a number of outdoor activities are taking place over the bank holiday, including the National Trust running Easter egg hunts in its nature trails.
The Government is keen to stress that even though group outdoor meet-ups are finally allowed, that does not mean social distancing rules can be ignored.
The guidance remains the same: Keep two metres away from people wherever possible to minimise the risk of infection.
This remains true even of people who have been vaccinated, with the Government yet to issue any new guidance on how those who have had the jab should act.
“Although it has been such a long time since we’ve been able to hug friends and family, we all still need to keep our distance to stop the spread of the virus,” she said.
Although the “Stay Home” rule ended on March 29, the advice from the Government so far has been that people should stay local, although no guidelines have been put in place to indicate what this means.
The guidance says people “should continue to minimise travel wherever possible”.
Campsites and self-contained holiday accommodation remain closed until at least Apr 12, after the Easter holidays. That is when a single household can go to self-contained accommodation elsewhere in the UK, providing they remain on their own when inside.
The only exemptions to the travel ban are for work, study, moving house or attending a major family event such as a birth, wedding or funeral.
The rules prohibiting travel abroad are being reviewed by a new task force which is expected to report on Apr 12 at the earliest, with many experts warning that Covid variants could cancel overseas summer holidays.
Adults can once again play football, tennis, cricket, basketball, golf, and all other manner of outdoor sports as pitches across the country reopened on March 29. Outdoor swimming pools, driving and shooting ranges, riding arenas at riding centres, archery venues and climbing walls are also allowed to open. So too outdoor gyms. The wider “rule of six” social contact limits apply to outdoor sports.
If the sport has been formally organised – for example by a qualified instructor, club, national governing body, company or charity – it is not subject to the gatherings limits. But the Government guidance says it “should be compliant with guidance issued by national governing bodies”.
Mr Johnson said: “I hope today will kick-start a Great British summer of sport – with people of all ages reunited with teammates, and able to resume the activities they love.”
Prominent British sportsmen including Eoin Morgan, the World Cup-winning captain of English cricket’s one day team, Johanna Konta, Britain’s number one ranked women’s tennis player, are helping promote the push for the public to get playing sports again.
After anger at the Metropolitan Police’s handling of the vigil for murdered Sarah Everard, which saw officers manhandling women on a bandstand at Clapham Common, the Government confirmed that the ban on protests also lifted on March 29.
The new regulations confirm that protests will be allowed under an exemption from the ban on gatherings if they are organised by a business, public or political body, or other group and satisfy risk assessments by police including to maintain social distancing.
Places of worship, weddings and funerals
Places of worship have remained open during the latest lockdown, and therefore there were no changes to services on March 29. Restrictions remain in place for Easter services, including that people “must not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble”.
Singing will be allowed at outdoor church services, meaning hymns can ring out during Easter Sunday if the events are happening in an outdoor setting.
Rules around funerals, which are allowed with 30 attendees and wakes with six attendees – though they cannot take place in private homes – also remain the same.
Each stage of the roadmap out of restrictions sees the numbers able to attend ceremonies increase, before it is hoped that they can proceed without restrictions on Jun 21.
Returning to work
Although the “Stay at Home” order will be lifted from Mar 29, the language has changed to say that “people should continue to work from home where they can”.
However, the advice remains that the number of journeys should be minimised and people should avoid travel at peak times. It is expected that the Government will issue further guidance on working home in the near future.
While a detailed Government roadmap for reopening has been published, clarity on when people will no longer be advised to work at home if possible is yet to emerge. It is being looked at as part of review of social distancing rules, with changes expected to come in at June 17 at the earliest.
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