2021-02-20 21:17:15 | Can I meet my friends and family outside? The new lockdown rules for socialising

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Story by: Yolanthe Fawehinmi The Telegraph

Boris Johnson is expected to announce his roadmap for easing coronavirus lockdown measures on Monday, February 22. 

Although the exact details are yet to be unveiled, the Prime Minister has indicated that his plans could include provisional dates for the easing of certain restrictions, including the re-opening of schools, non-essential shops and pubs.

Until then, here are the current rules for the third lockdown in England.

What does the lockdown roadmap mean for meeting friends and family?

As the Prime Minister continues to hail the vaccine rollout, and although the current lockdown has led to a sharp fall in the number of Covid cases and deaths in recent weeks, firm restrictions on meeting family and friends are still in place. 

The Telegraph understands that lockdown is unlikely to be eased significantly until daily Covid cases are in the hundreds. At the current rate, that could be early April, although the reopening of schools (on 8 March at the earliest) could have an impact on cases.

The Government has also made it clear that it wants the current lockdown to be the last, and therefore the easing of restrictions, to be outlined in the roadmap, may happen more slowly and more cautiously than many would like.

However, it is hoped that the roadmap will at least provide a provisional timeframe for, among other things, the resumption of sport and the reintroduction of the “rule of six”, and even the possibility of meeting members of another household at the pub.

When will we be able to meet indoors again?

Though there are some circumstances where you can meet people indoors, for instance, providing voluntary or charitable services, informal childcare assistance and providing emergency assistance, socialising has not been allowed for other purposes.

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Lockdown measures are expected to be eased from 8 March, though this is likely to start with the reopening of schools only. It is unlikely that people will be able to meet indoors again socially for a while longer.

Will we be able to meet more people outside?

As part of his roadmap announcement, it is possible the Prime Minister could share details of new rules that will allow more people to meet outside, including sitting outdoors at the pub or for sport. 

As it stands, however, you must not meet your friends outdoors unless it is for your daily exercise – and this should only be with one other person outside your household.

There is an exception to this rule: you are able to meet a friend if they are part of your support bubble or childcare bubble, where legally applicable and absolutely necessary. 

The current rules state: “It is against the law to meet socially with family or friends unless they are part of your household or support bubble. You can only leave your home to exercise, and not for the purpose of recreation or leisure (e.g. a picnic or a social meeting). This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.”

Will social distancing rules change? 

To keep us all safe and to prevent the spread of the virus, social distancing has been a measure the Government has enforced throughout the pandemic. 

And while changes to social distancing rules may be included as part of the Prime Minister’s roadmap plans, it is very likely that keeping a certain distance from people will continue to be implemented as lockdown is eased. 

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Can grandparents look after their grandchildren?

Households are not allowed to mix indoors with the exception of the current support bubbles, which allow one other person, such as an elderly relative, to visit.

This means a grandparent that provides childcare while a parent works, will still be able to continue to do so. 

The Telegraph understands that the Government is also looking at making an exemption to the one-to-one outdoor meeting rule for children, which could allow grandparents to see their grandchildren again with a parent as early as March.

Can grandparents hug their grandchildren after they’ve had the vaccine?

Hugging grandchildren and other family members may still not be advisable for some time, even when people have received the vaccine. Professor Janet Lord, director of the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing at the University of Birmingham, has pointed out that the vaccines “take several weeks before they are maximally effective”.

Will I be able to go on holiday with friends and family this year?

As part of the Prime Minister’s roadmap announcement, it is possible that provisional dates may be unveiled for the reopening of hotels and self-catering holiday lets, though it is not yet clear when mixed-household holidays will be allowed.

Non-essential travel abroad is currently not permitted. Travellers to the UK from “red list” countries must now quarantine in a hotel for 10 days. 

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Source References: The Telegraph

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