The next step of lockdown easing is set to go ahead this month as the government’s roadmap progresses into its third stage.
Stage two of the plan, which came into force on April 12, saw outdoor hospitality allowed to re-open after months of closures and uncertainty.
With the vaccine rollout continuing at pace and case numbers continuing to move in the right direction, the government is expected to confirm its intention to enact Stage 3 shortly.
The new step in lockdown easing will come into force no earlier than Monday, May 17 in England.
It will bring with it a whole host of new freedoms and rule changes surrounding everything from pub visits to staycations and weddings.
The changes will have a huge impact on the day-to-day lives of everyone living in England – so what, exactly, can we expect to happen?
These are all the changes set to come into force under Stage 3 of the lockdown easing roadmap.
Indoor hospitality set to re-open
In a welcome step forward for businesses across Merseyside, indoor hospitality will reopen.
Unlike last year, when different measures were imposed on businesses to try to prevent the spread of coronavirus, venues will not have to serve a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks.
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There will also be no curfew, with venues allowed to open according to their normal hours.
Customers will, however, have to order, eat and drink while seated.
In all sectors, COVID-Secure guidance will remain in place and businesses may not cater for groups bigger than the legal limits.
Hotels, hostels and B&Bs
Step 3 of the roadmap will see the rest of the accommodation sector, including hotels, hostels and B&Bs, allowed to re-open for overnight stays.
Indoor gym classes allowed to resume
Indoor adult group sports and exercise classes will be allowed to resume at gyms and leisure centres across Merseyside.
Weddings and funerals
Up to 30 people will be able to attend weddings, receptions and wakes, as well as funerals. This limit will also apply to other types of significant life events including bar mitzvahs and christenings.
Children’s play areas
Children’s play areas will be permitted to reopen under Step 3 of the lockdown easing roadmap
After more than a year of uncertainty and delayed box office releases, cinemas will also be allowed to reopen under Step 3.
Large scale performances and sporting events
The government will also allow some larger performances and sporting events in indoor venues with a capacity of 1,000 people or half-full (whichever is a lower number).
Performances and sporting events will be allowed in outdoor venues with a capacity of 4,000 people or half-full (whichever is a lower number).
In the largest outdoor seated venues, where crowds can be spread out, up to 10,000 people will be able to attend (or a quarter-full, whichever is lower).
The Rule of Six (or two households)
Indoors, the Rule of 6 or two households will continue to apply.
Meeting people outdoors
Most legal restrictions on meeting others outdoors are set to be lifted from May 17 – although gatherings of over 30 people will remain illegal.
As part of Step 3, the government has said it will look to continue easing limits on seeing friends and family wherever possible.
The government has also said it is looking to issue an update to the advice on social distancing between friends and family, including hugging.
Until this point, people should continue to keep their distance from anyone not in their household or support bubble.
Before Step 4 begins, the government will complete a review of social distancing and other long-term measures that have been put in place to cut transmission.
This will inform decisions on the timing and circumstances under which the rules on 1 metre plus, the wearing of face coverings and other measures may be lifted.
This will also inform guidance on working from home – which should continue wherever possible until this review is complete.