On Monday, a host of activities that have been banned under Covid rules will be allowed once again as the government’s lockdown easing continues.

Some of these activities have been possible for periods in the past year, while others have been banned since March last year.

Whether it’s getting back into large venues, or getting close to a special someone, here’s our round-up of the big changes that are coming as of May 17:

Give gran a hug

Until Monday, rules on social distancing mean that many families haven’t been able to see one another for some time. Unless they were in a support or childcare bubble, different households were unable to meet up in person.

Vulnerable people, meanwhile, were advised to self-isolate to lower their chances of catching Covid, which meant that many older people have been shut off from relatives for some time. Recently, rules in care homes have allowed more visitors to come in, and as of Monday, the rules relax further as social contact is allowed.

Hugs, handshakes and other contact will be allowed from May 17, as well as being able to meet in groups of up to 30 outdoors, but the government advises caution about doing so.

PM Boris Johnson said of the relaxation: “This doesn’t mean that we can suddenly throw caution to the winds. We all know that close contacts such as hugging is a direct way of transmitting this disease.

“So I urge you to think about the vulnerability of your loved ones.”

Some officials have suggested hugs should be preceded by taking a covid test, and by the wearing of facemasks while doing so. However, as of Monday, it is up to you to decide how close to get to your loved ones. Speaking of which…

Spending the night together

Overnight stays at another household, unless in a support bubble, had also been banned as part of social distancing rules.

As of Monday, these rules will be relaxed, allowing visit and stays at another house between two households, or up to six people. As a result, activities such as sleepovers will be possible, as well as more adult activities.

Sexual health charity The Terrence Higgins Trust recommends anyone wanting to have sex with a significant other/others should wash their hands for 20 seconds, or use hand sanitiser, before and after having sex. The charity’s medical director, Dr Michael Brady, also recommends wearing a face mask, using positions that avoid face-to-face contact, and the use of condoms for oral sex.

Big events

It’s time to start polishing that best man speech, as from Monday, larger events and ceremonies will be allowed to take place, following trials across the country.

Weddings, receptions, funerals and wakes, as well as ceremonies such as bar mitsvahs and christenings, will be allowed to take place with more guests than before. Up to 30 guests may now attended these occasions as a relaxation in Covid rules comes into effect.

Larger sporting events and performances can also take place if given permission, with indoor venues allowed to have 1,000 people or be half-full, whichever is lower, while outdoor venues are 4,000 or half-full, whichever is lower. In the largest venues, up to 10,000 people or a quarter-full, whichever is lower, will be allowed. This will allow venues such as theatres to reopen and put on performances once again, as well as concerts and sports matches.

Watch a film on the big screen

Many other entertainment and non-retail venues will also be reopening on Monday. Cinemas, which have been closed since the second national lockdown, will be among the venues hoping to tempt people back with a range of films both old and new.

Oscar winning Nomadland is expected in cinemas on May 17, while anticipated sequel A Quiet Place II will debut at the start of June. Then there are superhero blockbusters Black Widow, The Suicide Squad and Venom over the next few months as cinema release schedules begin to return to normal.

Aside from the big screen, venues like children’s play areas and bingo halls, as well as indoor exercise classes, can resume to give people of all ages something to get back into after lockdown.


No more will you have to shiver outside, or risk a pint in the rain, as indoor hospitality can finally get going again.

Many eateries have remained closed across lockdowns, without the ability to do takeaways or it not being cost-effective to do so. Many pubs, meanwhile, weren’t able to open in April due to a lack of outdoor space, and so will be hoping for a strong response from patrons once they can be welcomed back inside.

Even the ones which could open had to contend with bad weather sometimes forcing them to close, as well as thieves targeting their facilities to make outdoor eating and drinking more bearable.

As a result, on May 17, there will be many raising a glass to the return of the indoors.

We’re all going on a summer holiday

If being cooped up for over a year has left you a bit stir crazy, never fear – holidays are back from Monday.

Hotels, hostels and B&Bs are among the businesses which will be given permission to reopen, with many expecting a sharp rise in the number of people taking trips within the UK rather than venturing overseas this year.

However, for those hardy few who want to jet out without having to quarantine on their return, there are a few options as a number of countries open their doors to UK jetsetters.

On Friday, May 14, Portugal announced that it would allow UK tourists with a negative PCR test from the previous 72 hours to fly into the country without a quarantine. As a result, there has been a surge in the number of bookings, with airlines such as EasyJet laying on extra planes to meet demand.

On their return, UK tourists must take a Covid test within the first two days, and need only quarantine if they are positive.