TODAY marks the next milestone in the government's road to freedom out of lockdown.
The 'stay at home' message has been ditched with new rules coming into force in England – here is what you can and can't do.
🦠 Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates…
Millions of Brits were ordered to stay at home under the third national lockdown, working from home and unable to meet up with friends in a bid to stop the spread of Covid.
And under the current rules, many Brits have been fined for not having a reasonable excuse for heading outside.
But Boris Johnson's roadmap out of lockdown has now started to unfold, with the next phase beginning today, March 29.
Do I need to stay at home from today, March 29?
No. The next phase of the government's easing of lockdown restrictions means the 'stay at home' slogan has been axed in England.
The Rule of Six has returned to allow Brits meet up with six mates outside while outdoor sports are also back on.
Earlier this year, two women were fined £200 each for driving five miles to go for a walk in the park.
But the change now means that people have been told simply to "minimise travel".
How far can I travel?
Under the new rules, Brits are encouraged to 'stay local' – but this has not been officially defined.
Members of the public are advised to remain close to where they live, but this will not be legally enforced.
It means people can visit family members a couple of hours' drive away or visit a park in another part of the country and not be fined.
You could even travel from London to the Lake District for a walk and not be fined from today, March 29.
The Department of Health and Social Care has said: "People should be sensible – if you do leave home, you should stay local in the village, town, or part of the city where you live – unless there is a justifiable reason not to do so."
And in great news, most of the country will bask in a balmy 20C mini-heatwave this week as outdoor meet-ups are finally allowed.
However, people do face a £5,000 fine for trying to leave the country without good reason.
Can I travel abroad?
Previously a holiday ban was implied, as it was not one of the reasons people are allowed to leave their homes.
Under new Covid laws, which were published by ministers last week, people across the country will be officially banned from leaving the UK without a reasonable excuse.
Brits face fines for travelling to a 'travel point' – like an airport or international train station – to head on holiday.
People already have to also fill out a form if they do want to leave the country, stating their permitted reason to do so, or face a £200 fine for not having the right paperwork.
What else has changed on March 29?
Under the PM's four-step plan, restrictions will change on key dates over the coming months – with lockdown expected to be completely lifted by June 21.
From March 8, students went back to school in England as part of the first phase.
And now from March 29, the rule of six has been re-introduced, allowing six people – or two households – to mix outdoors.
This means even small gatherings in private gardens will be permitted – just in time for Easter over the April 4 weekend.
Can I have a garden party or BBQ for Easter?
Yes! You are allowed to meet up outside with five other people or one other household, from March 29.
You should still follow social distancing guidelines.
My household has five family members and wants to meet up with six relatives who all live together – will we be able to see each other?
Yes, you can.
This new restriction was introduced – telling Brits that it is OK for two households to meet up outside from March 29.
The roadmap states: "Applying either limit provides greater flexibility, recognising the different situations faced by families and individuals; two households will be more helpful for families, while the Rule of 6 is likely to help people in different households to reunite outdoors, including those living alone or in shared accommodation."
However, you should still follow the social distancing guidelines, with hugs not expected to be allowed until May.
I live alone and want to meet up with five other friends in the park – is this allowed?
Yes! Under the roadmap, the Rule of Six has been re-introduced. This means that a group of six or less are allowed to see each other from March 29.
Can I have a birthday party indoors with the windows open?
No, not yet. May 17 will mark the lifting of the many indoor restrictions that are currently in place.
That date will mark a change in rules with indoor mixing in people's homes, including overnight stays, to be allowed once again with Rule of Six and a limit of two households.
We are a family of four and want to meet both sets of grandparents outside at the same time – is this OK?
No. The rules state that only two households should mix outside.
Can I drive 50 miles to meet my sister for a coffee outside?
Yes, but be cautious. It will not be illegal to travel outside your local area from March 29 – meaning you won't be fined.
However, you should still socially distance and limit other contact where possible.
Can I travel to Australia to see my family?
No. The ban on non-essential travel will remain in place until at least May 17.
However, a review into how to restart travel safely will be released on April 12.
Do I need to wear masks and stick to social distancing when I have a picnic with friends?
You should try to socially distance as much as possible even as the restrictions are lifted from March 29.
The roadmap states: "Guidance will set out how people can see others safely: the evidence is clear that this is safest to do in the open air, at a safe distance, while minimising the frequency of social gatherings and the numbers present wherever possible."
Outdoor team sports and activities such as tennis and golf have also returned from March 29, with people able to head to their local sports clubs again.
But indoor facilities like gyms won't be open until at least April 12.
April 12 will see the first major easing of restrictions with, non-essential shops and hairdressers to reopen and restrictions on travel relaxed further.
Barbers and salons will open a week earlier in Scotland, on April 5, while they have already reopened in Wales.
And a few weeks later, on May 17, many indoor restrictions are expected ot be lifted.
It comes as…
- The rule of six has resumed as Brits take the first step out of lockdown
- Here's everything that changes from today as restrictions are loosened
- When will pubs and restaurants open?
- When will non-essential shops open in England?
- Thirty million Brits have now been vaccinated against Covid
Indoor mixing in people's homes, including overnight stays, will be allowed once again from May 17 with the Rule of Six and a limit of two households.
Hugging is also expected to be allowed by May with the majority of the most vulnerable to have received two doses of the vaccine by then.
Finally in June, all restrictions are expected to be lifted.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland's lockdown rules differ due to their devolved governments, but they are also lifting lockdown restrictions.
Nicola Sturgeon already allowed groups of four from two households to meet outdoors earlier this month, and will ditch the 'stay home' message for Scots from April 2.
Meanwhile Wales lifted the order on March 13, but told people to stay local. Four people from two households can also meet outside.
Northern Ireland is set to reintroduce the Rule of Six outdoors from April 1, with the 'stay home' order lifted on April 12.
Source: Read Full Article