With the UK coronavirus lockdown easing, it's good to remind ourselves of the rules surrounding meet-ups with family and friends.
Although we’ve been under a form a lockdown for a long time now, local outbreaks are suggesting more local lockdowns could be a real possibility, after it new lockdown areas were announced last night. So it’s still important to take precautions to protect our health and that of the general public.
So while many of us have been delighted to reunite with loved ones following weeks apart, there are still restrictions on how many people we can see at one time that are worth bearing in mind.
According to the government, how many people are we currently allowed to meet up with then – both outdoors and indoors?
How many households can meet in the UK?
The government website states that in England. we should still only be socialising indoors with just one other household. The same, they say, applies to any trips to pubs or restaurants, too. It means that we should not be meeting up with more than one other household, under current rules.
Clarifying exactly what this means, the government have stated:
“You should only meet people you do not live with in 3 types of groups:
- you can continue to meet in any outdoor space in a group of up to 6 people from different households
- single adult households – in other words adults who live alone or with dependent children only – can continue to form an exclusive ‘support bubble’ with one other household
- you can also meet in a group of 2 households (anyone in your support bubble counts as one household), in any location ‒ public or private, indoors or outdoors. This does not need to be the same household each time.”
However, this does not apply to the areas who have recently been put under tighter lockdown restrictions. In the new lockdown areas, residents are no longer allowed to meet people outside of their household – whether indoors or outdoors, unless they are in their support bubble.
But if you are outside these areas, how many people exactly, can meet out outside and inside?
How many people can meet up outside?
At this stage of the coronavirus pandemic, the UK government have stipulated that in England, you should not meet in a group of more than six people from different households outside. However, they do state that if you are all from the same two households, or the same support bubbles, more than six people are allowed to meet up outside.
You should still social distance when meeting up outside, and take all the necessary precautions, such as handwashing and, for example, avoiding sharing cutlery and/or drinks.
However, the rules begin to get a little unclear when you consider some elite sports or work events. The rules officially state that you can meet in larger groups outside “if necessary for work, voluntary or charitable services, education, childcare or training, elite sporting competition or training, to fulfil legal obligations.”
Non-professional team sports can now also be played outside, and can be played with any number of people if they are formally organised, by a sports club for example. If they are played informally though, there must be no more than 30 people taking part.
In other parts of the UK though, the rules are slightly different.
In Wales, there are no restrictions on the number of people who can meet outdoors, but no more than two households can meet at a time.
In Scotland a similar rule applies, meaning can people meet up in groups as big as they want, providing that they are made up of only a maximum of two other households.
But in Northern Ireland, groups of up to 30 people can meet up outdoors without restriction.
Can people meet indoors and how many people can meet indoors?
You are now allowed to meet up indoors, but you should only meet inside in groups of up to two households, according to the latest guidance from the government. They explain that this includes visiting people, or having them visit your home. You are also now permitted to stay overnight in someone else’s home, but you should avoid using shared facilities where possible.
The rules state that social distancing should still be observed (as far as possible), as the risk of transmission of the virus is still higher indoors than it is outside.
However, if you are in a support bubble (if you are a grandparent, or are in a support bubble with a grandparent for example), you do not need to maintain a social distance.
These rules also mean that technically, you should not be interacting socially with anyone outside of your household, or one other household outside or in an enclosed social setting, such as a pub, restaurant, or a place of worship. So, for example, you should only share a table at a restaurant with one other household, or members of your own household.
In fact, it is actually against the law for gatherings of more than 30 people to take place in private homes (including gardens and other outdoor spaces).
In some parts of the UK, indoor meetings are now banned as these new lockdown areas have stricter restrictions in place as of today.
Rules to follow when meeting up with loved one both indoors and outdoors
- Clinically vulnerable people (people with underlying health conditons and those over 70), can meet people indoors and outdoors, but extra care should be taken around social distancing and hand hygenie. It is also important that you do not visit a clincally vulnerable person if you have been indentified as being in close contact with a coronavirus case, as part of the NHS Test and Trace scheme.
- You can use public transport if you are travelling to visit someone indoor or outdoors now, but the government urges that if you can travel in another way, you should do so.
- You should also avoid sharing a private vehicle (e.g a car), with someone outside of your household or support bubble.
- Face masks are now mandatory in shops and supermarkets, and are strongly encouraged in other enclosed public spaces (such as people’s homes).