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UK Lockdown Measures Eased

Lockdown measures are being eased across England after more than seven weeks of restrictions – but how could everyday life change?

Can I meet friends and relatives?

Two people from different households in England can meet in outdoor settings, such as parks, as long as they stay more than two metres (six feet) apart.

The government has said it will impose higher fines for people who break social distancing rules.

Can I exercise more?

The rules have been relaxed so people in England can now spend more time outdoors “for leisure purposes”. That includes sunbathing.

There is no limit to the amount of exercise allowed. Activities such as golf, angling and tennis are permitted, but only alone or with one other person. That person can be from another household but social distancing rules still apply.

Playgrounds and outdoor gyms, where there is a higher risk of close contact and touching surfaces, remain shut.

Households are also able to drive to other destinations in England – such as parks and beaches. But they should not travel to Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, it’s hoped that cultural and sporting events in England can take place behind closed doors for broadcast from 1 June.

Face masks and gloves worn by two women on a market stallImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Should I go back to my workplace and how will I get there?

People who can work from home in England should continue to do so “for the foreseeable future”.

But the government says those who can’t work from home should travel to their work if it is open. However, they should avoid public transport for social distancing reasons – and walk, cycle or drive if at all possible.

Those who do use public transport are being told to expect social-distance queuing and to wear face coverings.

Sectors “allowed to be open, should be open”, the government adds. These include food production, construction and manufacturing.

Workplaces should follow new guidance on making them safe for staff. This includes frequent cleaning of surfaces and equipment, staggering arrival and departure times and, for office workers, holding meetings remotely and avoiding the use of hot desks.

The issue of how businesses can secure personal protective equipment without competing with the NHS has raised concerns.

Social distancing at a Vauxhall plant, Ellesmere PortImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Can I move home?

House moves and viewings can resume again in England.

Potential buyers and renters will be able to visit showhomes and view houses on the market to let or buy.

Moving home will also be allowed again, as will visiting letting and estate agents.

Anyone who has already bought a new home can visit it to prepare it for moving in.

What about childminders and nurseries?

After initial confusion, childminders in England have now been told they can reopen – but only if they’re caring for youngsters who come from the same household.

During lockdown, registered childminders have either been closed or providing care for vulnerable children or children of key workers.

Pre-school nurseries in England are expected to reopen from 1 June.

When will schools and universities return?

Primary school Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 classes are expected to reopen from 1 June in England.

It’s so the youngest children, and those preparing for the transition to secondary school, have maximum time with teachers.

Group of primary school childrenImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

The government says its ambition is for all primary school children to return to school before the summer for a month if feasible – but to support social distancing there will be class sizes of no more than 15 pupils.

Also from June, secondary schools and further education colleges should prepare for face-to-face contact with Year 10 and 12 pupils who have key exams next year, in addition to their “continued remote, home learning”.

Teachers’ unions have called for “clear, scientific published evidence” that schools are safe to re-open.

Meanwhile, there is uncertainty over whether students will be able to go to university in person in September or whether they will be taught partially or completely online.

Man wearing a face mask leaving a garden centre in WalesImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

When can I go High Street shopping again?

From 1 June at the earliest, but only if the government’s five tests to ease restrictions are met. Non-essential retailers will be able to open in phases if they can follow the social distancing guidelines.

Hospitality and personal care venues, such as hairdressers, will not be allowed to open at this stage, because there is a higher risk of virus transmission.

Garden centres in Wales are already back open and they can now re-open in England too. Decisions are awaited in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Some DIY stores have already reopened – but they are accepting card payments only and have shorter trading hours.

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