Prime minister to give green light for May 17 Covid-19 lockdown easing

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce Covid-19 restrictions can be eased from May 17. - Credit: Paul Ellis/PA Wire

The next stage of the coronavirus lockdown easing roadmap will go ahead as planned, prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to confirm on Monday.

It will mean that, from Monday, May 17 six people or two households will be able to meet indoors, including in pubs, bars and restaurants.

Hugs with family and friends and indoor socialising are also expected to be allowed.

Step three of the roadmap out of lockdown is expected to start from Monday, May 17, after the government said latest data showed its four tests to allow further easing have been met.

Ministers will hold a meeting on Monday morning to agree the next set of measures.

The government said the latest data suggests easing restrictions is unlikely to risk a resurgence in infections.

Mr Johnson is set to host a press conference on Monday afternoon to confirm the further easing of restrictions.

He said: "The data reflects what we already knew - we are not going to let this virus beat us.

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"The road map remains on track, our successful vaccination programme continues - more than two-thirds of adults in the UK have now had the first vaccine - and we can now look forward to unlocking cautiously but irreversibly.

"It's because of the British public's unwavering commitment that we are saving lives, protecting the NHS and controlling the virus."

The four tests are:

The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully

Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.

Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.

Risk assessment is not changed by new variants.

It comes after cabinet office minister Michael Gove said the government wants to see "intimate contact" between family and friends "restored" from May 17.

If the easing goes ahead, then entertainment venues can open too, including cinemas, theatres and soft play areas.

The rest of the accommodation sector, and indoor adult group sports and exercise classes are expected to reopen.

While other measures include allowing up to 30 people to attend weddings, receptions and wakes, as well as funerals.

New rules will be in place for different sizes of venues.

Normal outdoor events can open for up to 4,000 people or 50pc of the venue capacity, whichever is smaller.

Indoor events can open for up to 1,000 people or 50pc capacity, again whichever is lower.

It comes as latest figures show a third of UK adults are now fully vaccinated against Covid-19, with a total of 17,669,379 people having received both jabs - the equivalent of 33.5pc of all people aged 18 and over.

England and Northern Ireland are both estimated to have given two doses to 33.6pc of their adult population, slightly ahead of Wales (33.4pc) and Scotland (33.1pc).

The milestone was described as "a testament to the extraordinary efforts of NHS staff and volunteers" by Mr Johnson, while health Secretary Matt Hancock said it is "yet more evidence of the huge national vaccination effort we are in the middle of".

More than 50m vaccine doses have been administered in the UK as the government said it is on track to offer all adults a first dose by the end of July.

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