What can and can't you do as the coronavirus lockdown rules ease across the UK?

It's a long way from life as we knew it but the lockdown measures have been easing across the UK as our “new normal” continues to evolve.

All four nations have been independently reviewing their measures every three weeks and expanding the freedoms of residents as the rate of coronavirus cases lessens.

So what can you do now in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland that you couldn’t before? What are you still stopped from doing? And when might that change?


From Monday groups of up to six people from outside one household can meet outdoors in public and in private gardens in England, provided people who do not live together maintain a distance of at least two metres from each other.

However, if you are visiting someone else in their garden, you cannot camp overnight or go indoors other than to gain access to a garden.

People who have been shielding - those who are clinically very vulnerable to coronavirus - in England and Wales during the coronavirus crisis can, from Monday, exercise and meet people from another household outdoors, so long as they follow social distancing guidelines.

You can compete at some sports but you can't make contact

Groups of up to six people from different households will also be able to exercise together in England as of Monday, maintaining social distancing.

This means non-contact team sports can resume, although participants must keep two metres apart.

Sunbathing, endless exercising, tennis, basketball and golf are all encouraged, as long as social distancing is employed and is only done with a maximum of one other person from another household.

Basketball players can get back to dunking but one-on-one play is prohibited.

But exercising at indoor sports centres, gyms and swimming pools remains prohibited and children’s playgrounds remain shut.

Competitive sport in England is set to resume from Monday under strict coronavirus safety guidance.

This means matches and races will be played behind closed doors without spectators. But you can watch the action on TV.

The first major sporting event expected to take place under the new guidelines is the 2000 Guineas Stakes at Newmarket Racecourse on June 6.

The Premier League and English Football League (EFL) are set to resume from 17 June, though both "subject to a successful vote from their clubs and approval by safety advisory groups".

Fans will be able to watch Premier League action on free-to-air platforms for the remainder of the season after the government called on the league to "widen access" in light of continued social distancing measures.

Private and ticketed attractions are also off limits. The government said restaurants, pubs and bars will only reopen “provided it is safe to do so”, and not before 4 July at the earliest.

You can send the kids to school unless they're in years 2-5 and 7-13

Children in only a few years of the education system are set to return to classrooms in England.

The government’s hope of returning primary school children in reception, Year 1 and 6 has met opposition from teachers unions and parents.

But some classes will be restarting from 1 June, while pre-school nurseries can reopen and childminders can take in children from the same household.

Students at secondary school and higher education are still waiting for a prospective return date, though the government has indicated Year 10 and Year 12 students could be first in line for renewed contact with teachers.

You can buy a car but you can't drive it to Wales

Stunning Welsh coastline will be the preserve of the Welsh alone for a while longer.

You can buy a car and drive it anywhere across England, including to the beach or beauty spots which were previously off limits in lockdown.

There are no restrictions on travel - until you hit the border. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland remain blocked to residents in England as the devolved powers manage their own restriction levels.

You can buy a house but you can't visit a second home

Homeowners can now complete in England.

Visiting a ’second home’ in England or a holiday apartment remains off limits.

However, prospective home owners and renters can now view properties and move.

So you can move home but - for those wealthy enough to have it - not visit your second one.

While garden centres and some hardware stores have already reopened, people in England can soon shop more widely on the high street.

From Monday, outdoor retail, such as markets, and car showrooms will be allowed to open, as long as they employ the recommended social distancing measures.

Two weeks later, on June 15, the government intends to open other non-essential shops in England, such as fashion or homeware retail.

The government has previously said stores will have to meet Covid-19 safety and security guidelines and has advised face coverings should be worn in some shops.

You can get measured for a suit but you can't get a tailored beard

Tailors are set to be back in business but barbers can't return yet.

However, some services will remain closed. So - slightly incongruously - you can now get measured for a suit, but you can’t get a haircut.

People who are able to work from home in England are being urged to continue but those who can’t are urged to return to their place of work.

Walking, cycling and driving is encouraged and anyone forced to use public transport is urged to wear face masks and keep their distance - a reality which was soon reported as impractical by returnees in busy cities.

Plane travel is currently only for essential journeys and those arriving from outside the UK will be placed in quarantine for two weeks, with exceptions from flyers from the Republic of Ireland.

Several airlines are targeting a bigger service come July.

Yet at any point the easing of restrictions in England could be reversed if the so-called “local lockdown” announced by the government is enforced.

What could local lockdowns look like in England?

Flare ups of the virus could see social restrictions enforced within a still-to-be-determined range.

The government’s test, track and trace system - which Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said is set to be introduced in some form before the end of May - could bring about stricter restrictions and closures in parts of towns, schools, hospitals and businesses.

The Joint Biosecurity Centre will keep track of infection rates from data gathered from workplaces, testing centres and the wider environment and watch out for localised increases.

The people who have had sustained recent contact with an infected person will be tracked by phone or email. A location-tracking phone app will also identify who has had contact with the infected person.

The Joint Biosecurity Centre will advise chief medical officers, who could recommend the closure of schools, businesses and workplaces within a set area.


Scotland’s road map back to normality means from Friday up to eight people can meet up outdoors, but they must continue to socially distance.

But they can’t meet indoors until “phase two” of the road map is employed.

Other changes announced, include allowing people to travel from their home for leisure such as sunbathing, and sports including fishing, golf and tennis.

Fro the end of May those in the country could also enjoy unlimited exercise - including non-contact sports - sitting and sunbathing.

For now people can travel within the country but are urged to stay close to home if possible.

Golf, tennis, bowls, fishing and other non-contact outdoor activities have been given the green light to resume.

However, the Scottish government urge people not go travel more than five miles for recreation.

You can eat plenty of takeaways but you can't see a dentist for a while

Takeaway outlets will return in the main in Scotland in June.

Garden centres have reopened, recycling and waste services have started up again and those employed in construction and agriculture can go back to work.

Nicola Sturgeon has stood firm on schools, saying they are not to be reopened until August at the earliest.

From Monday, teachers in Scotland will be able to go into schools for preparation ahead of the planned opening on August 11.

Childcare provisions are being expanded in June beyond key workers and the housing market will also reopen, though house moves remain on hold for now.

Some take-away outlets will reopen in June but shops, pubs and restaurants are still off limits. They - along with dentists - will only reopen in “phase three” as long as social distancing is carried out.


People in Wales can exercise throughout the day but must stay close to home and only do it with a member of their own household.

Eating in a park is not off limits, but lengthy picnics seem to go against the tone of the guidance issued in mid May.

Travel remains only for “necessary” journeys and people are urged to work from home when they can and can’t visit second homes.

You can visit the library but you can't book a hair appointment

Libraries are set to reopen in Wales with social distancing rules.

Garden centres, rubbish tips and libraries can be accessed though, with social distancing maintained.

The rules will be revisited on 28 May. However, the government in Wales has already ruled out schools reopening on 1 June.

Only essential shops can be accessed for now. Hairdressers remain shut in Wales, with no indication of a change in early July in line - potentially - with England.


While Northern Ireland has a five-phase plan for easing lockdown, it has not been accompanied by prospective dates. But there is an ambition to get to the end by Christmas.

Groups of four to six people who are not part of the same household can gather outdoors as long as they keep their distance.

Those not shielding from the virus can also visit immediate family indoors as long as social distancing is maintained.

Northern Ireland residents can access garden centres and recycling centres but cafes and restaurants can only offer takeaway or collection.

Some non-food outdoor retail outlets will reopen from June 8, such as businesses selling cars and agricultural machinery.

Some indoor non-food businesses with low footfall such as electrical stores, mobile phone shops and furniture stores will also be able to reopen, as long as they have direct outdoor access.

You can visit the drive-in cinema but concerts and theatres are off limits

Indoor cinemas remain empty across Northern Ireland.

Non-contact sports are allowed and drive-in cinemas are open. Marriage ceremonies are permitted for the terminally ill.

The later steps - yet to be initiated - will expand on the numbers who can meet outdoors, open non-food retail outlets, increase sports participation and reopen open-air museums.

Step three will see some pupils return, concert and theatres resume rehearsals, phased returns to offices and libraries opened.

Step four will see contact retail outlets open - once risk assessment has been completed - schools welcome back more students, leisure centre facilities reopen and businesses introduce staggered start times to get staff back in the office.

Step five returns Northern Ireland to normal pre-lockdown social and work life, albeit with social distancing restrictions maintained.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know