May 17th lockdown easing: what rules are changing from today?

GCSE results day at Taverham High School. Headteacher Carol Dallas giving a celebratory hug to Georg

Hugging will now be allowed again from Monday as the country moves into stage three of the coronavirus roadmap - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

More coronavirus restrictions are being eased as the country enters the next stage of the government's roadmap out of lockdown on Monday.

After prime minister Boris Johnson announced this week that England had done enough to progress to the next stage, here are the changes you will see:

Indoor gatherings

Indoor hospitality will resume again with pubs, restaurants and cafes allowed to serve food and drinks to customers inside. 

Customers will have to remain seated at all times, unless they are using the toilets. Table service will continue. 

The Woolpack now boasts two beer gardens after converting its car park into a seating area Picture:

Pub goers will be able to sit inside for the first time this year - Credit: Sonya Duncan

There are no restrictions on the serving of alcohol and the 10pm curfew is a thing of the past - but the rule of six will apply to indoor dining. 

Other indoor venues such as cinemas, museums and children's play areas will be able to reopen.  

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Social contact

Perhaps the biggest change for many will be the greater freedoms on social contact - allowing people to hug friends and relatives for the first time in ages.

Outdoors, gatherings of up to 30 people are allowed.

Indoors, the rule of six or two households will apply.

The government says that: "From May 17, if you are meeting friends and family, you can make a personal choice on whether to keep your distance from them, but you should still be cautious."

Weddings, funeral and religious events

From Monday, 30 people will be allowed to come together to celebrate weddings, attend wakes and take part in religious ceremonies. 

The government has also announced it will scrap the cap on the numbers of people attending funerals and allow as many people that can be safely accommodated in the venues. 

Performances and sporting events 

On Monday, theatres and indoor sporting venues will be allowed a maximum capacity of 1,000 people. 

Theatres across Suffolk are gearing up to reopen from Monday and throughout May, including the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich. 

Jobs may be lost at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich after the coronavirus pandemic wiped out its i

Theatres will be able to reopen from Monday, May 17 - Credit: Archant

Outdoor arenas will be allowed to reopen with a maximum crowd of 4,000 - but stadiums where there is more room to be socially distanced will be allowed to have 10,000 people.


Face coverings will no longer be recommended in communal areas in secondary schools or colleges from Monday. 

Face to face teaching will resume for university students on Monday, but testing twice a week will be required. 

Students wearing face masks in a lesson.

Students at schools will no longer have to wear masks in communal areas of schools and colleges - Credit: PA

Face masks may be brought back into schools if there is a local outbreak, the government has said.


Mr Johnson said in his announcement that overseas holidays will be allowed from May 17. 

The prime minister announced that Portugal, Gibraltar, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Iceland and the Faroe Islands - plus several small remote islands which are British Overseas Territories - will all be on the "green" travel list.

That means people are allowed to travel there without having to quarantine when they return to England.