Coronavirus: PM urges people to live responsibly with Covid as England’s lockdown eases

People should “live responsibly” with Covid and stay vigilant to the risks as England’s lockdown is further eased, the prime minister has said.

Boris Johnson said this was the “single biggest step” in relaxing the rules and people should use good judgment.

He confirmed that indoor hospitality and household mixing can resume as planned from next Monday.

People will now also be able to choose whether to socially distance with close family and friends.

Speaking in Downing Street alongside England’s chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty and the UK government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, Mr Johnson said the further relaxation of England’s lockdown will go ahead on 17 May as the government had met its four tests for easing restrictions.

“This doesn’t mean that we can suddenly throw caution to the winds. We all know that close contacts such as hugging is a direct way of transmitting this disease.”

These tests relied on the success of the vaccine rollout, evidence that the jabs were reducing serious illness and death, infection rates remaining under control and the risks from new Covid variants not changing.

The prime minister said the latest data showed deaths and hospitalisations had dropped to their lowest level since last July.

More than two third of adults across the UK have now received a coronavirus vaccine, he added, with almost 18 million people having had their second dose.

The UK’s four chief medical officers said earlier that the UK’s Covid alert level should be lowered from level four to three. It means that although coronavirus is in general circulation, transmission is no longer high or rising exponentially, so restrictions can be gradually reduced.

Mr Johnson said that, as part of the latest lockdown easing, the government would update its guidance on close contact between close family and friends on Monday.

He said the advice would explain the risks involved so people could make informed choices.

“This doesn’t mean that we can suddenly throw caution to the winds. We all know that close contacts such as hugging is a direct way of transmitting this disease,” the prime minister said.

“So I urge you to think about the vulnerability of your loved ones.”



What is changing in England on 17 May?

  • People can meet in groups of up to 30 outdoors
  • Six people or two households can meet indoors
  • Overnight stays will be allowed in groups of up to six people or two households
  • Pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues can reopen indoors
  • Adult indoor group sports and exercise classes can restart
  • Indoor entertainment such as museums, theatres, cinemas, sports stadia and children’s play areas can reopen
  • Performances and large events can restart, with limits on audience numbers
  • Remaining outdoor entertainment, such as outdoor theatres and cinemas can open
  • Hotels, hostels and B&Bs can reopen
  • Holidays abroad to green list countries allowed
  • Up to 30 people can attend weddings and more than 30 can attend funerals

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