Basingstoke residents will be able to hug their friends and family again this spring, subject to the government easing lockdown restrictions.

Boris Johnson announced his four-stage roadmap out of lockdown last month, with the first step - the full return of schools - already being achieved.

There are set to be further changes next Monday (March 29) when people will be allowed to meet up with up to five others (abiding by the rule of six to a maximum of two households) outdoors, to coincide with the start of the Easter holidays.

Outdoor sports facilities will be able to reopen, and the stay at home rule will be abolished, despite government continuing to advise people to work from home where possible and minimise the number of journeys.

But the latest government guidance reveals that people could be able to hug their friends and family again as soon as May.

The guidance states that rules on social distancing between friends and family will be updated "as soon as possible and by no later than step three".

It will come alongside measures allowing mass gatherings of up to 30 people outdoors and the rule of six or two households indoors.

Additionally, indoor hospitality and entertainment venues will be able to reopen.

When will this happen?

These relaxations are currently set to happen not before May 17.

But the wording in the government guidance, "no later than step three", opens the possibility of the Prime Minister deciding to bring this particular relaxation forward.

And all lockdown easing decisions are subject to the government's four criteria being met, and it could be delayed in the event of another wave.

This means that the vaccine programme must continue to be successful, the vaccine must be effective in reducing hospitalisation and death, infection rates won't put unsustainable pressure on the NHS, and the risk is not changed by the presence of concerning mutations.

If these are not met, then the date for step three could be pushed back.

The government hopes that all social distancing laws will be removed by June 21.