Coronavirus UK latest – Boris Johnson gives the go-ahead for fun and indoor pints from May 17

BORIS Johnson has confirmed the Covid restrictions will be eased further on May 17.

The Prime Minister finally announced Brits can hug family and friends from next week, after months of social distancing.

The Prime Minister set out the rules on hugging loved ones and attending wedding and funerals at a 5pm press conference today.

He told the nation to use their “personal judgement” and “common sense” when hugging pals and family members after May 17.

Brits will be able to enjoy an indoor pint with their group of six as well as jet off for a holiday next week.

Read our coronavirus live blog below for the latest updates…

  • Jon Rogers

    RANGERS FANS WARNED BY POLICE NOT TO CELEBRATE TITLE IN LARGE NUMBERS

    Police have urged Rangers fans not to gather in large numbers when their team collects the Scottish Premiership trophy after a supporters' group announced plans for a march.

    The Union Bears group posted an invitation to supporters to march from Ibrox to George Square in Glasgow city centre after Saturday's final league game of the season against Aberdeen.

    Police Scotland has warned such a plan would be against coronavirus regulations.

    Chief Superintendent Mark Sutherland, Divisional Commander for Greater Glasgow Division, said: "Ahead of the match between Rangers and Aberdeen at Ibrox Stadium on Saturday, an appropriate policing plan is in place to maintain public safety and minimise any disruption to the community.

    "Under the current restrictions no-one should be gathering in numbers of more than six at the stadium or any other location and Police Scotland supports the club in urging its fans to do the right thing and follow the coronavirus regulations around gatherings."

  • Jon Rogers

    JOHNSON APPEARS TO RULE OUT BRING JUNE 21 DATE FORWARD

     Boris Johnson appeared to rule out bringing forward the end of Covid-19 restrictions in England, saying that the success of the roadmap out of England's Covid-19 lockdown depended on leaving space stages.

    Asked if he might bring forward a June 21 date for the final stage of his roadmap out of lockdown, Johnson said: "I think it's very important that we should proceed cautiously."

    "The secret of the success that we've had so far I think it's been that we have been guided by the data and we've given time to see the effect of each successive stage on the roadmap."

    Johnson added the one-metre plus social distancing rule for restaurants and pubs might be ditched on June 21

  • Jon Rogers

    BRITS URGED TO STILL THINK OF VULNERABLE LOVED ONES

    Boris Johnson said: "This doesn't mean that we can suddenly throw caution to the winds.

    "We all know that close contacts such as hugging is a direct way of transmitting this disease," he said.

    "So I urge you to think about the vulnerability of your loved ones."

  • Jon Rogers

    INDIAN VARIANT COULD CAUSE PROBLEMS IN AUTUMN – WHITTY

    Professor Whitty, responding to a question about the Indian variant, said: "It has gone up very sharply, that's a reason to be very careful about it.

    "With all the variants, things can come out of a blue sky, that happened with the Kent variant, that has happened to India.

    "At this point in time, our view is that this is a highly transmissible variant, but it is less likely to be able to escape vaccination, but the data is less properly in there.

    "We don't know whether this will cause significant problems in the autumn."

  • Jon Rogers

    VALLANCE 'CONFIDENT' THIS IS THE FINAL LOCKDOWN

    Patrick Vallance said that things are "pointing in the right direction" and vaccines are helping put things on a "smoother path".

    Asked about the return of people to offices and city centres, the Prime Minister said he believes the "bustle" of city and town centres will come back, as he thinks people will want to see each other.

  • Jon Rogers

    HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY WELCOMES MAY 17 DECISION

    In response to the Prime Minister's confirmation that indoor hospitality will reopen on May 17, Kate Nicholls, chief executive of industry body UKHospitality, said: "This is a much welcome and vitally important next step, as we continue along the road map to remove restrictions.

    "There is a huge sense of relief within the sector, in particular for the six in 10 venues that were not able to reopen over recent weeks due to a lack of outdoor space.

    "However, with significant restrictions still in place, this is a psychological opening rather than an economic one, with the profitability of the sector still a huge issue.

    "This is why sticking to the road map and the removal of all restrictions by June 21 is absolutely crucial, enabling venues to finally operate in viable conditions, after 14 months of severely disrupted trading."

  • Jon Rogers

    'CONSIDERABLE STEP' ON THE ROAD BACK TO NORMALITY – PM

    "This unlocking amounts to a very considerable step on the road back to normality and I am confident that we will be able to go further," Johnson told a news conference.

    Johnson has previously said nearly all restrictions could be lifted on June 21.

  • Jon Rogers

    BRITS URGED TO KEEP SOCIAL DISTANCING RULES WHEN NOT WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS

    Boris Johnson has said people should continue to follow social distancing rules when not with family and friends.

    He told a Downing Street news conference: "We only have to look at the very sad situation in other countries to see the lethal potential of this virus and we must continue to fight the spread of variants here in the UK.

    "While we have no evidence yet to believe these variants are completely vaccine resistant, we must remain vigilant."

  • Jon Rogers

    THEATRES CAN OPEN FROM MAY 17

    Following an update from the Prime Minister that theatres will be able to open on May 17 – with social distancing and Covid protocols – a statement from Society of London Theatre & UK Theatre's chief executive Julian Bird said: "Today's confirmation that Step 3 of the Government roadmap will go ahead on May 17 is very good news, allowing England's theatre industry to begin the process of reopening.

    "A number of theatres will be welcoming audiences back to socially distanced performances while also creating work for our world leading workforce.

    "Theatres will be following our industry wide See it Safely protocols to ensure a consistency of customer experience and that the latest government Covid guidelines are being followed.

    "We are optimistic that this announcement paves the way for a full reopening from June 21, and it is hugely encouraging to see audience confidence growing, reflected in increasing ticket sales."

  • Jon Rogers

    BRITS TOLD TO STAY WORKING FROM HOME

    Brits should continue to work from home if they can from May 17 – despite lifting rules on pubs, restaurants and allowing people to mix inside.

    Workers are currently allowed to come back into office buildings if they wish, subject to social distancing requirements and building limits.

    However, the PM has confirmed tonight that people are still to be told to work from home if they can, until at least June 21.

    A review of social distancing and whether it should stay is expected to form a key part of lifting all rules next month.

  • Jon Rogers

    SPORTING VENUES CAN WELCOME BACK SUPPORTERS

    Sporting venues across England will be able to welcome back spectators from next Monday, the Prime Minister has confirmed.

    Boris Johnson said at a press conference on Monday afternoon that the Government was proceeding with its plan to take the third step in its coronavirus recovery road map, first set out on February 22.

    "We'll unlock the turnstiles of our sports stadia subject to capacity limits," Johnson said in his opening speech as he detailed the further easing of lockdown in England.

    It means larger seated outdoor venues will be able to admit up to 10,000 spectators from next week.

  • Jon Rogers

    ENGLAND 'ON TRACK' TO END LEGAL RESTRICTIONS

    Boris Johnson said England remains "on track" to end all legal restrictions on June 21 and said an update later this month would set out what role, "if any", could be played by coronavirus health certificates and social distancing.

    He told the Downing Street press conference: "This unlocking amounts to a very considerable step on the road map back to normality and I am confident we will be able to go further.

    "Subject to the impact of step three on the data, we remain on track to move to step four on June 21.

    "And to give business more time to prepare we will be saying more later this month about exactly what the world will look like and what role there could be – if any – for certification and social distancing."

  • Jon Rogers

    KIDS WON'T HAVE TO WEAR MASKS IN SCHOOLS FROM MAY 17

    At a No 10 press conference to mark reaching Stage 3 of his roadmap, Mr Johnson declared: "We will no longer require face coverings in classrooms or for students in communal areas in secondary schools and colleges.

    "All remaining university students will be able to return to in person teaching where they should be tested twice a week."

    Currently secondary school pupils have to wear masks while at their desks and in communal spaces like corridors.

    Children in primaries are exempt from the rules, though teachers and adult visitors are expected to cover up where social distancing isn't possible.

  • Jon Rogers

    PUBS MUST KEEP TABLE SERVICE

    Table service and social distancing measures are among the rules that will remain in place at bars and restaurants as they are allowed to reopen for serving indoors.

    It's the first time in months that indoor dining and boozing will be allowed after England was plunged into the third coronavirus lockdown on January 4.

    Pub beer gardens and restaurant terraces opened again on April 12 for outdoor dining and drinking as part of the staged roadmap for leaving lockdown behind.

  • Jon Rogers

    JOHNSON STATEMENT

    Mr Johnson said: "With deaths and hospitalisations at their lowest level since last July and the UK's four chief medical officers today agreeing a reduction in the alert level, the data now support moving to step three in England from next Monday, May 17."

  • Jon Rogers

    CASUAL SEX IS BACK ON

    CASUAL sex is back ON with Boris Johnson set to lift the indoor mixing rules and allow hugging and kissing again from May 17.

    For the first time this year, people from different households are expected to be allowed to mix indoors from Monday next week – in a big win for Brits looking for hook-ups.

    On May 17, people will finally be able to meet their loved ones inside their homes again – as long as they follow the Rule of Six.

  • Jon Rogers

    EASING OF RESTRICTIONS TO START MAY 17

    Boris Johnson has confirmed the following easing of restrictions from May 17

    • Hotels, B&Bs can also reopen.
    • Everyone can travel within Britain and stay overnight. 
    • Face coverings will no longer be required in classrooms.
    • All remaining students can return to in-person teaching where they are tested next week. 
    • Care home residents can now have up to five named visitors. 

    GROUPS OF SIX CAN MEET UP INDOORS

    Boris Johnson has confirmed that up to six people can meet indoors from next Monday onwards. 

    Groups of up to 30 people can now meet outside. 

    JOHNSON ANNOUNCES INDOOR EATING AND DRINKING TO RESTART

    Pubs, cafes and restaurants in England can serve customers indoors from next Monday, Boris Johnson has announced – and families will be able to hug.

    NO NEW COVID-19 RELATED DEATHS RECORDED IN ENGLAND TODAY

    No new Covid-19-related deaths have been recorded in England today.

    2,009 new cases were reported, giving a new total of 3,876,424.

    ‘VERY IMPORTANT FOR MENTAL HEALTH’

    An epidemiologist has touched on the importance of hugging, for mental health and wellbeing.

    Speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning, Dr Mike Tildesley said: “It’s actually very important for mental health and wellbeing that we can hug loved ones, but the key message for me is that if and when this comes in, we need to remember that the pandemic hasn’t gone away.

    “We are still a few steps away from normality. It’s really great we can hug loved ones but what we need to remember is we need to be a little bit careful.

    “Do it responsibly. If people have symptoms or particularly vulnerable relatives, then maybe do this with caution.”

    • Alice Peacock

      SINGLE DOSE OF AZ VACCINE REDUCES CHANCE OF DEATH BY 80%

      Public Health England (PHE) said analysis shows that people who have a single dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine have approximately 80% lower risk of death with Covid-19 compared with people who have not had been vaccinated.

      Their data showed that Covid-19 cases who had been given a single dose of either the Pfizer or the AstraZeneca vaccines had similar levels of protection against mortality – at 44% and 55% respectively, compared with unvaccinated cases.

      When this is combined with the protection vaccines offer against becoming a case in the first place, PHE said it is equivalent to approximately 80% protection against mortality in people who have had a first dose of either vaccine.

      The data also shows that protection against mortality from the Pfizer vaccine is even higher (around 69%) for confirmed cases who had their second dose at least seven days before their positive test, PHE said.

    • Alice Peacock

      CHANGES EXPECTED TO BE IMPLEMENTED FROM MAY 17

      • Six people will be allowed to meet inside again – or up to two households
      • The rule of six will be lifted outside to 30 people
      • Hotels can reopen and holidays abroad will finally be allowed – to a certain set of green-list countries
      • Indoor exercise classes will be back on again
      • Hugs between close family and friends are set to get the green light
      • Overnight stays with people you don't live with are expected to be allowed
      • Pubs and restaurants will finally be allowed to open inside
      • Funerals will be allowed to have more people attend – as many as the venue can safely allow
      • Other indoor activities such as cinemas, museums and kids' play areas

      'DOWN TO YOU NOW'

      Boris Johnson will announce today that lockdown rules WILL be relaxed from next week – but people will be told it's time to take personal responsibility for their actions.

      The PM is due to tell the nation this afternoon that they can finally mix indoors with others, have exercise classes – and even go on holiday.

      But in a dramatic change of tone, the PM is expected to finally say it's up to Brits to make up their own mind on what level of risk to take, as the number of Covid cases continues to plateau.

      He is set to say that hug-starved Brits will be allowed to embrace once again, after over a year of urging people to stay apart in case of spreading Covid.

      At the moment anyone who doesn't live together is advised to keep at least 1.5 metres away from others to stop the spread of the virus, but he will say that it's now down to the individual to make up their own minds.

      ULRIKA JONSSON ADMITS BREAKING SOCIAL DISTANCING FOR HUGS

      Ulrika Jonsson has admitted breaking social distancing rules to hug friends after taking a "calculated risk".

      Ulrika appeared on Good Morning Britain today after having a nasty reaction to her second Covid jab.

      "I'm a very tactile person," she told the show.

      "I struggled most in this last lockdown. Often on dog walks I meet people and I'm holding their hands, rubbing their arms or embracing them. I don't even mind touching people I don't know very well."

      Quizzed by guest host Alastair Campbell about whether she has "lapsed" with the no-contact rules, Ulrika replied: "Oh obviously."

      She added: "I shouldn't be saying this, but of course, all the time. It's such a natural thing and sometimes it's so spontaneous you don't stop yourself.

      More on this, here.

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