Original article from Kent Live
We are just over two weeks away from the next easing of coronavirus restrictions in England.
After hairdressers, gyms, shops and restaurants all reopened on April 12 the next lifting will see even more significant changes.
It’s the latest step on the roadmap out of lockdown which could see all restrictions lifted by June 21.
May 17 will be the first day that two households are able to meet indoors for the first time since Christmas.
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At present, if only two households are meeting there is no cap on the number of people attending, but they must meet outdoors until May 17.
As well as the mixing of households indoors from mid-May, indoor hospitality will also be allowed to reopen, alongside museums, cinemas and hotels.
These measures will be the third part of the reopening from lockdown.
From mid-May, groups of up to six people and two households will be allowed to meet in each other's homes.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has given the go-ahead for family members to hug each other from May 17, although he maintained people should stay "cautious" until then.
As part of this next stage of the reopening, weddings, receptions, wakes, funerals, and other life events such as christenings can be attended by up to 30 people.
While pubs and restaurants can only serve customers al fresco at present, they will be able to open their doors in earnest from May 17.
The rule of six and allowance for two households to meet will be introduced indoors as well, so two families can meet for a pub lunch inside.
Meanwhile, these rules will no longer apply outdoors, when people will be able to meet in groups of up to 30 in beer gardens or when dining outside.
Hotels, bed and breakfast establishments and indoor gym classes will be allowed to open in this third phase of the reopening.
Entertainment venues such as cinemas and theatres will reopen as well, with specific rules in place for venues of different sizes.
Outdoor events will be permitted to open for whichever is smaller: up to 4,000 people or half of the venue capacity
Indoor events will similarly be allowed to open for whichever is lower: up to 1,000 people or half the capacity.
Meanwhile, for huge outdoor seated events, such as matches at Wembley Stadium, there is a limit of up to 10,000 attendees or a quarter of the capacity, whichever is lower.
International holiday travel will be permitted from May 17, with a traffic light system in place that classes countries as red, amber or green on travel lists.
For those travelling to countries on the amber or red lists, passengers will be required to quarantine upon return to the UK.
Holidaymakers will only be able to return if they have a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours of departure and will also be required to have at least one test after arrival in England.
Travellers will have to purchase and take gold standard PCR tests upon their return to the UK – which come in at around £120 each and could rack up quite an extra cost for families.
Yet, after Covid-19 testing firms were accused of profiteering, the government is reportedly considering plans to exempt PCR tests from VAT, which means costs could fall to around £50 per test.
Also as part of the third phase of the reopening from May 17, university students will be able to return to in person teaching on campus, replacing virtual lectures.
The fourth stage of the roadmap out of lockdown, which will come into force no earlier than June 21, should see "all legal limits on social contact" removed.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed the dates set will not be brought forward.
The reopening measures will go ahead on the proposed dates as long as the corresponding coronavirus data does not take an adverse turn.
The four statistical areas which will determine the speed of the reopening are the vaccine roll-out, the Covid-19 deaths and hospitalisations, the Covid-19 case numbers and the emergence of new variants.
As of April 28, a total of 33,959,908 people have received one dose of the vaccine, with 13.6m people having received both jabs.