LiveBoris Johnson announces social distancing for friends and family will end in England on May 17

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, is announcing an easing to some Covid-19 restrictions.

Monday, 10th May 2021, 5:56 pm

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Boris Johnson news live: Boris Johnson confirms end of social distancing in England but it will remain in Northern Ireland

Last updated: Monday, 10 May, 2021, 17:27

Boris Johnson confirms end of social distancing for friends and family in England but it will remain in place in NI

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed social distancing will end on May 17 in England for friends and family but it looks like it will remain in place in Northern Ireland.

Addressing the public, he told the Downing Street press conference: “I want to thank you particularly because your efforts have so visibly paid off, giving us the time to vaccinate more than two thirds of all adults across the UK, with more than one third – nearly 18 million people – also receiving their second dose and thereby unquestionably saving many lives.

“And so it’s precisely because of your efforts that I can confirm today that we’ve met our four tests for further easing the lockdown in England.”

Mr Johnson added: “With deaths and hospitalisations at their lowest level since last July and the UK’s four chief medical officers today agreeing a reduction in the alert level, the data now support moving to step three in England from next Monday, May 17.”

Lockdown in the UK: What are the latest changes in the four nations?

The Prime Minister is due to announce that the next phase of lockdown easing can go ahead in England on May 17, after the Covid-19 alert level in the UK was downgraded to a “level 3” threat.

Here is an update on measures across the four nations and what further changes are expected.

Mr Johnson is likely to say people are free to meet friends and family in parks, gardens and other outdoor areas, as the legal limit on outdoor gatherings is raised to 30 people.

Outdoor arenas will be able to host live events with a maximum number of 4,000 attendees, or for large outdoor seated venues where crowds can be spread out, up to 10,000.

Gatherings inside homes are likely to be allowed once again, with a limit of up to six people or groups from a maximum of two households.

Indoor recreation is expected to return too, with the reopening of cinemas, sports and indoor seating at pubs and restaurants.

As well as doing away with the 10pm curfew, no substantial meal will be required for patrons to enjoy a pint, but they must order, eat and drink while seated to avoid queues at the bar.

Mr Johnson is expected to update the advice on social distancing which may mean hugs with loved ones will be permitted.

Cabinet minister Michael Gove told Sky News on Sunday that “intimate contact between friends and family is something we want to see restored”.

As part of a further review into wider social-distancing policies, the mandatory stay at home order for workers may also be scrapped.

This may not come into effect on May 17, but is expected before the following phase easings on June 21.

Britons are currently permitted to travel to a handful of approved “green list countries” without having to quarantine, provided they take one post-arrival test.

– What about Wales?

Gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools have been open again for a week in Wales following further easing of the Covid-19 restrictions on May 3.

Organised children’s indoor activities and indoor adult fitness classes have resumed and two households are able to form an exclusive bubble and meet indoors.

An announcement on any further easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions in Wales is due to be made on Friday following discussions on Monday.

Welsh indoor hospitality and all tourism accommodation is also expected to reopen from May 17.

No plans on international travel have been announced by the Welsh government, but UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he expects the rules will be “broadly similar” to those for English tourists.

Welsh Labour housing minister Julie James confirmed on Sunday that foreign holidays were “very much part of the package of discussion”.

And in Scotland?

Scotland moved from Level 4 to Level 3 of the Scottish Government’s five tiers of restrictions on April 26, following continued suppression of the virus.

Funerals and weddings, including post-funeral events and receptions, are allowed to take place with up to 50 people and alcohol permitted.

Travel between Scotland, England and Wales is allowed and tourist accommodation has welcomed back visitors.

Cafes, beer gardens, non-essential shops and museums have been reopened as well as gyms, swimming pools, libraries and museums.

People are able to meet others for a meal or drink, with up to six people from two households allowed to socialise indoors in a public place such as a restaurant.

But hospitality is required to close at 8pm indoors, and alcohol is only allowed to be served outside.

The Scottish Government is currently facing a legal challenge over the restrictions by trade body Night Time Industries Scotland, which argues continuing measures are “no longer justifiable or proportionate”, and a breach of the Human Rights Act.

Further easing of restrictions in Scotland is also expected on May 17 which will allow more socialising indoors and outdoors and further reopening of indoor venues with capacity limits.

– What about Northern Ireland?

Non-essential retail and outdoor hospitality resumed in Northern Ireland on April 30.

Curfews on takeaways and off-licences were removed and gyms and swimming pools have also reopened for individual activities.

The limit on outdoor gatherings in domestic gardens has been increased to 15 people but these can be from no more than three households.

Self-contained tourist accommodation, such as caravans and rented holiday homes, can also operate.

More restrictions are set to be lifted on May 24, although these are subject to review.

From that date, pubs and restaurants can operate indoors, people will be allowed to gather in homes, and indoor attractions can reopen.

Other tourist accommodation such as hotels and B&Bs can also reopen.

Wedding receptions and post-burial events can take place in indoor hospitality venues, if appropriate risk assessments are undertaken.

Investigation launched by parliamentary standards commissioner into Boris Johnson’s Caribbean holiday getaway in 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his fiancee Carrie Symonds.

Boris Johnson remains under investigation by the Commons “sleaze” watchdog over his controversial new year break in Mustique 16 months ago, it has been disclosed.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone has confirmed for the first time that she is inquiring into whether the Prime Minister has properly declared the £15,000 stay on the luxury Caribbean hideaway.

Mr Johnson appears on a list of nine MPs currently under investigation by the commissioner published under new Commons rules.

Only one inquiry predates that into the Prime Minister.

Previously the commissioner was not permitted to say whether she was inquiring into a complaint against an MP.

In the Register of Members’ Interests, Mr Johnson declared the stay with his fiancee Carrie Symonds as a “benefit in kind” from Carphone Warehouse founder, David Ross, who has a villa on the island.

The disclosure that the commissioner’s inquiry is still ongoing comes as the Prime Minister continues to face questions over how the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat was paid for.

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “The public have a right to know who paid for Boris Johnson’s luxury Caribbean holiday and the renovation of his flat.

“Most importantly, we need to know what these donors were promised or expected in return for their generosity.

“As we have seen over the last year, Tory donors have received a very high return on their investment in the form of government contracts.

“Boris Johnson needs to stop using the office of Prime Minister as an opportunity to fund his lavish lifestyle and enrich his mates.”

A spokesman for Mr Ross said in a statement: “Mr Ross facilitated accommodation for Mr Johnson on Mustique valued at £15,000.

“Therefore this is a benefit in kind from Mr Ross to Mr Johnson, and Mr Johnson’s declaration to the House of Commons is correct.”

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