Today marks changes to lockdown restrictions in England and Scotland, with hospitality venues reopening in full and indoor gatherings now allowed in most places.
The success of the vaccination rollout – which has seen more than 20 million people receive both doses – means England has so far managed to stick to the proposed timeline for the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown.
Many are now wondering when life will get back to normal in the UK, as the final stage of lockdown looms.
When will social distancing end in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland?
When will social distancing end in England?
While it was originally hoped most lockdown rules could be dropped by June 21, this is definitely not certain.
As concerns about the high rates of the Indian covid variant continue, the final stage of restriction easing may have to be altered.
Cases of the B.1.617 mutation are mostly present in the north west of England, and in some boroughs of London – and experts are warning that it could be more infectious.
As a result, the vaccination rollout has been sped up in certain areas, with second doses available on a quicker timescale.
Hugging is permitted again in England from today, however, as indoor meetings return.
Social distancing is still advised, however, and experts have encouraged people to remain cautious.
The ‘one metre plus’ rule, which means maintaining a distance while wearing a face mask, is still in place.
When will social distancing end in Wales?
In Wales, social distancing looks to remain standard practice for the foreseeable future.
Currently, six people from multiple households can meet outdoors, including in gardens.
However, social distancing is still a part of the guidelines, alongside mask-wearing and hand-washing.
In schools, masks are still required wherever social distancing cannot be maintained, such as in classrooms and corridors.
The guidance in Wales will be updated on June 4, but it’s not likely that these rules will change at that point.
When will social distancing end in Northern Ireland?
Lockdown measures will be eased on May 24, with a test event – the Irish Cup – acting as an experiment for reduced social distancing.
Libraries and museums can reopen from this date, and the ‘stay local’ travel message will be dropped.
Social distancing more generally will be maintained for the foreseeable future, however.
A review is due in June, which may reveal more information about when the practice will end.
When will social distancing end in Scotland?
From today, people in most parts of Scotland can hug their loved ones again.
Everywhere apart from Glasgow and Moray – which remain under higher restrictions because of Indian variant rates – will see lockdown easing.
Physical distancing in places like gardens or homes is no longer a rule, as groups of up to six people from three households can now gather in private.
Social distancing does, however, remain in place in pubs and restaurants, and caution is advised.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that the practice might end in June, but this remains under review.
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