THE day has finally arrived that will see pubs and restaurants allowed to open indoors, and people allowed to hug their loved ones after five months.

Across the North-East and the rest of the country, lockdown restrictions on indoor mixing and social contact have today been lifted.

It follows on from the introduction of the third national lockdown all the way back in January, when the whole country was plunged under tough restrictions.

As part of the government's roadmap out of restrictions, today's easing of the rules mark the completion of the third step out of four main phases.

But what are the new rules? We've put together a list of all the rules that have been relaxed and explained what they mean for you.


The Northern Echo:

Meet indoors

From today, you can now meet up to six people - or two households - in any indoor setting including private homes and in indoor hospitality venues.

The rules, which still see the rule-of-six applied for caution, are in addition to the restrictions on meeting people outdoors, which were eased last month.

It now means one household can welcome another (outside of their support bubble) indoors, including for overnight stays.

Although the guidance says that people should continue to minimise the number of people they meet within a short period of time to limit the risk of spreading Covid. 

The Northern Echo:

Indoor restaurants, pubs and hotels can now reopen

You'll no longer need to sit outdoors in torrential weather conditions as indoor hospitality is allowed to reopen from today.

Restaurants, pubs and cafes can reopen to customers indoors, as can hotels including B&Bs and hostels.

It follows on from restrictions on travel eased from today, meaning Brits can now travel and stay in overnight accommodation or travel abroad.

Not hospitality, but the rules for carehome residents visiting out and receiving visitors has also changed, allowing up to five named visitors (two at any one time).

The Northern Echo: Coronavirus – Sun May 16, 2021

You can now hug a loved one 

Restrictions on who you can have social contact with have been eased, provided you stick to the rule-of-six (up to six individuals, or two households).

It now means you can hug, or come into close contact, with a friend or family member without fear of breaching Covid restrictions. 

However, the guidance recommends that people use their own common sense and decide on the appropriate level of contact for their circumstances.

It is not until step four, the total easing of restrictions on social contact, where guidance will no longer recommend major restrictions.

The Northern Echo:

You can go abroad

There are no longer any restrictions on leaving England to travel internationally, but the guidance states that you still should not travel to certain countries.

It means the rules previously banning people in England from leaving the country for holiday purposes has been lifted.

Earlier this month, the transport secretary Grant Shapps unveiled the green, amber and red scoring of countries Brits would be allowed to travel to.

It named countries such as Portugal and Gibraltar on its green list - meaning you do not need to self-isolate upon your return.

Meanwhile other countries including Spain and Turkey were added to amber and red lists respectively, meaning you will need to self-isolate and follow certain rules upon return.

The Northern Echo: Picture: TRIPADVISORPicture: TRIPADVISOR

More indoor venues can reopen

As with pubs, restaurants and hotels, more indoor venues can today reopen including entertainment businesses and cinemas. 

The guidance states children’s play areas, the rest of the accommodation sector, including hostels and B&Bs, and indoor group sports and exercise classes can reopen.

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).

Meanwhile 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).

What are your plans for the easing of restrictions? Let us know in the comment section below or on our social media.