The Prime Minister confirmed on Monday that from May 17, most legal restrictions on meeting others outdoors will be lifted – although gatherings of over 30 people will remain illegal. Indoors, the rule of six or two households will still apply, and maintaining a distance is advised.
However, health bosses are still urging caution as many see the latest move as an opening to return to mass hugging.
Lincolnshire County Council’s assistant director for public health Andy Fox said he was “really pleased” and that the latest step was one “we’ve been looking forward to and hoping for”.
He said: ”There’s an acknowledgement that we no longer need sort of a one rule for the whole population.”
However, he added: “That does come with a challenge for people to be able to understand what makes somebody a higher level of risk.
“What’s helpful is making it clear to people that we will be living with COVID for some time, even if we have lower rates and high level of population vaccination coverage, the disease will still be out there, it will still be in circulation especially internationally, and they’ll always be the risk of variants of concern sort of popping up.
“We do need to be vigilant going forward.”
Mr Fox said the latest announcements were good news and proved the virus hasn’t “gone out of control”.
He confirmed numbers didn’t rise significantly after the last round of relaxations, but are still expected to do so from May 17 and health bosses will be closely watching the infection rates.
He added that the vaccination programme, rather than lockdown, was now doing most of the the heavy lifting – with around 70% having had their first dose, and 35% their second.
Under the latest announcement, pubs, restaurants, cinemas and other venues will be able to operate indoors and foreign holidays will also not be restricted any more, with the introduction of the traffic light system.
Advice is available to businesses from their local council and government websites.
University students will be able to have face-to-face lessons so long as they are tested twice a week and care home named visitors will increase from two to five.
College and secondary school students will also not be required to wear face coverings in communal areas.
Up to 30 people will be able to attend weddings, receptions and wakes, as well as funerals — and this will also apply to other types of events including bar mitzvahs and christenings.
Step four will not begin until at least June 21, where all limits on social contact are set to be lifted and all remaining premises, including nightclubs, will be able to open.