From Monday life in much of the UK will take its biggest step yet to a return to normality over a year into the Covid-19 pandemic.
England, Scotland and Wales have all planned significant lockdown lifting for May 17 – with Northern Ireland’s due to happen a week later.
The plans for all four nations are the most significant relaxation of rules yet and are due to be followed up with almost a complete end to restrictions sometime in the summer, although Boris Johnson cast some doubt on the June 21 reopening date, as Indian Covid variant cases continue to spread.
Any future plans are contingent on the continued success of the vaccine rollout and the containment of virus and any variants of concern.
Boris Johnson confirmed the planned lockdown lifting on May 17 would go ahead at the start of the week and hailed the new rules as a «considerable step on the road back to normality.»
From Monday pubs and restaurants will be able to serve customers indoors in groups of up to six people, although they will be limited to table service.
People in England will be able to meet outdoors in groups of up to 30, and indoors – including private homes – in groups of six, or two households.
Close contact between friends and family will also be allowed to resume, meaning people can finally hug again.
Other recreational venues such as cinemas, museums, theatres and concert halls will be allowed to reopen, although there will be capacity limits on large events.
Up to 30 people will be allowed at weddings, although dancing will still not be allowed, and the cap on the number of mourners attending funerals will be lifted, in line with the safe capacity of the venue.
Secondary school pupils will no longer be told to wear face masks in class and communal areas, and university students will return to campus for in-person lectures.
There will also be a further relaxation on the number of named visitors a person living in a care home will be allowed to have.
The «stay in the UK» restriction will lift and people will be able to travel to «green list» countries without having to quarantine, provided they take one post-arrival test.
Only a few nations like Portugal and Israel made it onto the green list with popular holiday destinations like France and Spain currently on amber.
Wales recently announced similar measures to England beginning from next Monday.
Welsh indoor hospitality and all tourism accommodation will reopen from May 17.
Six people from up to six households will be allowed to meet indoors and close contact will be allowed.
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Entertainment venues, including cinemas, bingo halls, bowling alleys, indoor-play centres and areas, casinos, amusement arcades, and theatres can re-open.
Indoor events like weddings will allow a maximum of 30 people while outdoor events can have 50.International travel will be allowed to take place from May 17 and Wales will use the same traffic light system as England.
However, First Minister Mark Drakeford has urged Welsh people to stay at home this summer.
He said on Thursday: «If ever there is a year to explore the wonders of Wales and holiday at home, this is the year to do that.»
Wales opened gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools slightly later than England on May 3 but after Monday their rules will be pretty much aligned.
From May 17 most of mainland Scotland will move from level three to two and many island areas will move to level one.
But First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that Glasgow and Moray will be kept in level three following outbreaks of Covid-19 there.
In level three areas, groups of up to six from two households can meet in an indoor public place such as a café, pub or restaurant, but in level two areas six people from three households will be able to meet in a home, the same number can meet in a hospitality venue, and eight people from eight houses can meet outdoors.
Close contact will also be permitted in level two areas, letting people hug for the first time in months.
In level one areas the number of people who can meet indoors rises to eight and outdoor to 12.
Alcohol can be served indoors in pubs, cafes and restaurants, and cinemas, bingo halls, museums and other entertainment venues can reopen in level one and two.
Social distancing during meetings indoors or in private gardens will be dropped, allowing people to hug loved ones again.
Scotland will also join the traffic light system for international travel but Ms Sturgeon has said Scots should “think seriously” about whether to take overseas holidays.
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 with the final decision being made on May 20.
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.
What happen’s next?
With most of mainland Britain set to be roughly aligned in rules from Monday the final steps of lockdown lifting, in theory, should not be too far away.
But this all depends on the Indian Covid variant and how it spreads, with the PM warning the variant could make it «more difficult» for England to move to step four of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown on June 21.
If the next stage of the reopening does go ahead on June 21, then all remaining businesses that are currently closed will be allowed to reopen and restrictions on group numbers will come to an end, meaning England’s nightlife will return to some form of normality for the first time in over a year.
The government has said some restrictions will likely remain in place for the largest gatherings and testing before going to an event may be necessary.
In Wales, the next review of the rules is due to happen in three weeks on June 4 and so far little has been said about what could change.
In Scotland, Ms Sturgeon has said she hopes all of the country can move to level one from June 7.
If all goes well and Covid numbers remain low Scotland could go to level zero on June 28, which means the number of people who can meet indoors increases to 10 and outdoors increases to 15.
Nightclubs will remain closed at level zero and the work from home message will stay in place.
If the May 24 plans go ahead in Northern Ireland the next step will take place on June 21 at the earliest.
This will see theatres reopen and conferences allowed to take place.