Great Britain

May 17 rule changes - what can we do from tomorrow?

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Rules around meeting others indoors, hospitality, and events will all change from tomorrow. The Government is pressing ahead despite concerns about the Indian coronavirus variant, which has been detected across several areas of the UK. During the Downing Street briefing, the Prime Minister said: "I do not believe that we need, on the present evidence, to delay our road map and we will proceed with our plan to move to step three in England from Monday."

At this stage, it is not currently known whether the variant is more deadly or more contagious, but it appears to be spreading faster than previous iterations of the disease.

Areas of the North West of England are particularly affected, with cases almost doubling week on week in areas like Bolton.

Mr Johnson issued stark warnings regarding the India variant last night, saying England will face “hard choices" if the Indian variant of concern turns out to be much more transmissible than others.

Experts have insisted that the change of rules should be delayed to allow more people to be vaccinated in light of the new threat.

Boris Johnson

May 17 rule changes - what can we do from tomorrow? (Image: GETTY)

Two people hugging

May 17 rule changes: Hugging will also be allowed again between close family and friends (Image: GETTY)

Sage member Professor Kit Yates told the Observer: “At this point the precautionary principle should kick in. The more people we can vaccinate, the safer we become.

“Even a couple of weeks at this point could make a huge difference in the face of this seemingly more transmissible variant.

“A pause would also buy us time to understand more about the properties of the variant, which would put us in a better position to plan what comes next.”

He added: “The rapid rises in B.1.617.2 and the waves of hospitalisations that are predicted by the Sage modelling means that the risk has fundamentally changed and that the fourth test is not being met. The data suggesting a reassessment of the roadmap is there.”

Woman pouring pint

May 17 rule changes: Pubs and restaurants will be able to serve customers indoors for food and drink (Image: GETTY)

What will change on May 17?

Groups of up to six people or a mix of up to two households will be able to meet indoors at a private residence.

Outdoors, groups of 30 will be allowed to meet again.

Hugging will also be allowed again between close family and friends, and social distancing becomes optional between close groups when socialising.

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Pubs and restaurants will be able to serve customers indoors for food and drink, but customers must remain seated and table service must be given by staff.

Care home visits will also be eased, with residents able to have up to five named visitors, and low-risk visits can be made elsewhere by residents.

University students will be permitted to return to campus for in-person classes, replacing online lectures which have been in place largely for the past year.

The rules around funerals and weddings will also change.

Indoor diners

May 17 rule changes: Pubs and restaurants will be able to serve customers indoors for food and drink (Image: GETTY)

Funerals will no longer be limited to 30 mourners, with capacity decided by venues according to how many can fit within social distancing guidelines.

Weddings, receptions and other ceremonies will be able to take place among groups of up to 30.

Hotels and B&Bs can also open, meaning small group trips will be allowed again - at a maximum of six people booking at once.

Professional performances, such as theatre and dance, as well as cinemas, will be allowed to perform indoors, with the audience adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Outdoor events of up to 4,000 people or 50 percent of venue capacity, whichever is smaller, will be able to take place again.

The ban on overseas travel for leisure purposes will also be lifted, with the Government’s traffic light system still limiting travel to certain areas.

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