Lockdown roadmap: When will I be allowed to hug someone again?

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We know the big headlines of Boris Johnson's Roadmap out of Lockdown - which lays out when he hopes parts of the economy will reopen, and social distancing restrictions will gradually ease.

But what does that mean for all the little things which make life worth living?

The timing for each step will depend on various data - including the success of the vaccine rollout and hospitalisation figures, and all the dates given are the earliest possible time for that step, but here's a guide.


  • When can I and my sister visit Mum in her care home?

From March 8 care home residents can have one nominated visitor - they'll be able to hold hands, but will have to take a Covid test and wear PPE.

At Step 2, that's no earlier than 12 April, there will be a decision on extending the number of care home visitors to two per resident, and the government will set out a plan for the next phase of visits.



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  • When can I curl up with a book in a coffee shop?

Cafes, pubs and restaurants have been reduced to a takeaway service only during the latest lockdown.

Although outdoor hospitality will open in Step 2, it will be Step 3 (no earlier than 17 May), when indoor hospitality will open.


  • When can I hit the shops?

All retail is planned to reopen on 12 April, if the previous steps have gone to plan, but it won't be a case of a girls trip out, shopping til you drop, because you must go alone or with your household group at this stage.

Six people can meet indoors from 17 May.



  • When can we have our cancelled Christmas get together?

If you want family round your dining room table, the earliest date for that is 17 May, when two households, or six people will be allowed to mix indoors.

The government says they may be able to go further at this time, depending on the data, but also say people need to "make informed personal decisions", considering whether they are mixing with people who have been vaccinated, or who are at greater risk.

Professor Jonathan Ball from the University of Nottingham says he is in no rush at all to think about households freely mixing. He says the next few weeks and months is far too soon.




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  • When can I have a hug from a friend?

As lockdown begins to ease, and the roadmap steps begin, people should continue to keep their distance, keep hand washing and letting in fresh air.

Then from mid-May, people could be allowed to hug and get close to one another - the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock said today. That's because most vulnerable groups are expected to have received both coronavirus vaccine doses by then.

At the same time, (17 May, or five weeks after Step 2), two households or groups of up to six people could be allowed to mix indoors.


  • When can I stop wearing a mask?

At Step 4, (21 June) the aim is to have "no legal limits on social contact".

To coincide with that date, a review of all social distancing measures will be completed which will give answers about social distancing, masks, and advice on working from home.



Professor Jonathan Ball from the University of Nottingham says the date all depends on the success of the vaccine rollout, and a resulting reduction in the transmission of the virus.

If infection rates come down thanks to the vaccine, then it means we don't need measures like social distancing and masks to bring the rate down.


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  • When will football be back?

That depends on the format.

From 8 March you can have 'recreation' outside, with one other person or your household - so some shots at goal, simply for its enjoyment, rather than just for the purpose of exercise, would be allowed. But social distancing should remain in place.

From 29 March outdoor sports facilities will start to open along with organised sport for children and adults. That's at the same time as people will be able to meet outside in groups of six, though again, people should social distance.

From 17 May, outdoor events with a capacity of either 50% or 4,000 people, whichever is lower, will be allowed. And there will be a special provision for large, outdoor, seatedvenues where crowds can be safely distributed, allowing up to 10,000 people or25% of total seated capacity, whichever is lower.

And then from 21 June, it's hoped there will be no social distancing restrictions, allowing even larger crowds to gather.


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When can I feel sand between my toes again?

Well, the 'stay at home' message is lifted on 29 March, but we're being asked to minimise travel wherever possible.

Again, by 12 April, we're still being asked to minimise travel, although self-catering accommodation is now available, so a trip to the seaside in this country and an overnight stay in a cottage would be possible with your household.

By 17 May, all accommodation at the seaside - hotels, B&Bs, and hostels, will be open.

A decision will be made on foreign travel following a review which reports back on 12 April - it won't be before 17 May.



  • When can I take my driving test?

Driving tests can resume from Step 2, which is 12 April.


  • When will after work drinks be back?

If you're happy to wrap up warm, six of you can take advantage of outdoor hospitality from Step 2, which is no earlier than 12 April. You won't need to eat, but you'll have to drink, eat and order from your table.

From Step 3, 17 May, six of you can go inside - it'll still be table service. Or up to 30 people can stay outside.



  • When can I take those books back to the library?

Libraries will reopen from 12 April, but social distancing measures will still be in place.


  • What about my spin class?

Adult indoor group sports and exercise classes will be back from 17 May. That's along with museums, cinemas and children’s play areas.


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