Lockdown in the UK: What are the latest changes in the four nations?

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The Prime Minister has announced the next phase of lockdown easing can go ahead in England on May 17.

Confirmation that the nation is moving to the next stage of the Government’s road map came on the day the Covid-19 alert level in the UK was downgraded to a “level 3” threat.

Here is an update on measures across the four UK nations and what further changes are expected.

Coronavirus – Wed May 5, 2021
Boris Johnson announced that the next phase of lockdown easing can go ahead in England on May 17 (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

People will be free to meet friends and family in parks, gardens and other outdoor areas, as the legal limit on outdoor gatherings is raised to 30 people.

Outdoor arenas will be able to host live events with a maximum number of 4,000 attendees, or for large outdoor seated venues where crowds can be spread out, up to 10,000.

Gatherings inside homes are allowed once again, with a limit of up to six people or groups from a maximum of two households.

Indoor recreation also returns, with the reopening of cinemas, sports and indoor seating at pubs and restaurants.

Easing the lockdown in England
(PA Graphics)

Mr Johnson also confirmed that from next Monday, hugs between people from different households in England will be allowed for the first time in months

Cabinet minister Michael Gove told Sky News on Sunday that “intimate contact between friends and family is something we want to see restored”.

Travel to a handful of approved “green list countries”  – including Portugal – without having to quarantine,  will be permitted, provided travellers take one post-arrival test.

– What about Wales?

Gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools have been open again for a week in Wales following further easing of the Covid-19 restrictions on May 3.

Organised children’s indoor activities and indoor adult fitness classes have resumed and two households are able to form an exclusive bubble and meet indoors.

An announcement on any further easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions in Wales is due to be made on Friday following discussions on Monday.

Welsh indoor hospitality and all tourism accommodation is also expected to reopen from May 17.

No plans on international travel have been announced by the Welsh government, but UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he expects the rules will be “broadly similar” to those for English tourists.

Welsh Labour housing minister Julie James confirmed on Sunday that foreign holidays were “very much part of the package of discussion”.

– And in Scotland?

Scotland moved from Level 4 to Level 3 of the Scottish Government’s five tiers of restrictions on April 26, following continued suppression of the virus.

Funerals and weddings, including post-funeral events and receptions, are allowed to take place with up to 50 people and alcohol permitted.

Coronavirus – Mon Apr 26, 2021
Cafes, beer gardens, non-essential shops and museums were reopened on April 26, as well as gyms, swimming pools, libraries and museums (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Cafes, beer gardens, non-essential shops and museums have been reopened as well as gyms, swimming pools, libraries and museums.

People are able to meet others for a meal or drink, with up to six people from two households allowed to socialise indoors in a public place such as a restaurant.

But hospitality is required to close at 8pm indoors, and alcohol is only allowed to be served outside.

The Scottish Government is currently facing a legal challenge over the restrictions by trade body Night Time Industries Scotland, which argues continuing measures are “no longer justifiable or proportionate”, and a breach of the Human Rights Act.

Further easing of restrictions in Scotland is also expected on May 17 which will allow more socialising indoors and outdoors and further reopening of indoor venues with capacity limits.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is expected to give an update on restrictions during her coronavirus briefing on Tuesday.

– What about Northern Ireland?

Non-essential retail and outdoor hospitality resumed in Northern Ireland on April 30.

Curfews on takeaways and off-licences were removed and gyms and swimming pools have also reopened for individual activities.

Members of the public enjoy a drink and a meal in Belfast (Mark Marlow/PA)
Members of the public enjoy a drink and a meal in Belfast (Mark Marlow/PA)

Self-contained tourist accommodation, such as caravans and rented holiday homes, can also operate.

More restrictions are set to be lifted on May 24, although these are subject to review.

From that date, pubs and restaurants can operate indoors, people will be allowed to gather in homes, and indoor attractions can reopen.

Other tourist accommodation such as hotels and B&Bs can also reopen.

Wedding receptions and post-burial events can take place in indoor hospitality venues, if appropriate risk assessments are undertaken.

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