What today's announcement means for friends and families

Families can be reunited and dinner parties will be allowed as England’s coronavirus lockdown is eased – but millions of people will still be unable to hug their loved ones.

Under the changes from July 4, indoor gatherings involving two separate households will be permitted – including the possibility of visiting reopened pubs and restaurants – but social distancing will need to be maintained.

The two-metre rule will be eased, replaced with a “one-metre plus” measure, with the protection offered by the physical distance enhanced by other mitigation measures such as the use of face coverings, increased hygiene or layout changes in premises.

Boris Johnson said the “national hibernation” is beginning to end, and “life is returning to our streets”.

The Prime Minister told MPs that progress in tackling the virus meant steps could be taken to “safely ease the lockdown”, but “caution will remain our watchword”.

Mr Johnson acknowledged that the two-metre rule “effectively makes life impossible for large parts of our economy even without other restrictions”.

He added: “We’re today publishing guidance on how business can reduce the risk by taking certain steps to protect workers and customers.

“And these include, for instance, avoiding face-to-face seating by changing office layouts, reducing the number of people in enclosed spaces, improving ventilation, using protective screens and face coverings, closing non-essential social spaces, providing hand sanitiser, changing shift patterns so that staff work in set teams.”

With guidance replacing legislation, the PM said he is relying on people using their common sense to limit the spread of the virus.

Officials acknowledged that July 4 is a significant step, but remains a long way away from normal life.

Among the measures announced by Mr Johnson:

– Pubs and restaurants will be limited to table service.

– People will be able to stay overnight in hotels, bed and breakfasts and campsites.

– Most leisure facilities and tourist attractions can reopen.

– Cinemas, museums and galleries will be allowed to admit visitors.

– People will be able to go to hairdressers to trim their lockdown locks.

However, nightclubs, soft play centres and other businesses that involve close contact will remain shut – including nail bars and beauty salons.

The Prime Minister said “difficult judgments” had to be made and “every step is scrupulously weighed against the evidence”.

“Our principle is to trust the British public to use their common sense in the full knowledge of the risks, remembering that the more we open up the more vigilant, we will need to be,” he said.

From July 4, two households of any size will be permitted to meet in any setting – inside or out.

“It will be possible to meet one set of grandparents one weekend, the others the following weekend,” he said.

Under the new arrangements, drinkers returning to pubs will be asked to provide contact details to help trace them if there is an outbreak of coronavirus.

Mr Johnson said the measures will help restore a sense of normality after “the toughest restrictions in peacetime history”.

He told MPs: “Today, we can say that our long national hibernation is beginning to come to an end and life is returning to our streets and to our shops, the bustle is starting to come back and a new, but cautious, optimism is palpable.”

But he said the virus has not gone away and the Government “will not hesitate to apply the brakes and re-introduce restrictions – even at national level – if required”.

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