Groups of six people can meet outside as lockdown is eased

Families and friends can start to meet up outside under lockdown easing measures.

Families and friends can start to meet up outside under lockdown easing measures. - Credit: Archant

Family and friends will be allowed to meet in up to groups of six from next week under new lockdown easing measures.

Prime minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVI

Prime minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19). Photo: PA Video/PA Wire - Credit: PA

The move, which will come into place on Monday, will be a welcome boost for families and friendship groups, who until now have only been able to meet with one other person outside their household, in public spaces such as parks, while obeying social-distancing rules.

For those who are shielding, the prime minister urged them to continue to do so.

Boris Johnson said: ““I know the toll that lockdown has taken on families and friends who have been unable to see each other. So from Monday we will allow up to six people to meet outside, providing those from different households continue strictly to observe social distancing rules by staying two metres apart.

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“This was a cautious first step but we know there is no difference in the health risk so we will now allow people to meet in gardens and other private outdoor spaces. These changes mean friends and family can start to meet their loved ones, perhaps seeing both parents at once or both grandparents at once and for many people this will be a long awaited and joyful moment.

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“But I must stress that to control the virus everyone must stay alert, act responsibly, strictly observe social distancing rules and stay 2m apart from those you do not live with. Minimising contact wih others is still the best way to prevent transmission.

“You should also try to avoid seeing people from too many households in quick succession so we can avoid the risk of quick transmission from lots of different families and continue to control the virus. It remains the case that people should not be inside the homes of their friends and families unless it is to access the garden.”

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Mr Johnson said that it would be possible to have barbecues with members of your family.

He said: “It’s very, very important that people understand the really limited nature of what we’re saying.

“We do want people to be able to see their friends and family, we do want people to see two grandparents at once but it’s got to be socially distanced, there’s got to be a maximum of six people.”

He added: “We don’t want people to stay overnight, we don’t want people to go to other households and stay there, I’m just afraid we’re not at that stage.”

“What you certainly can imagine is there could be meetings of families in a garden, you could even have a barbecue provided you did it in a socially-distanced way, provided everyone washes their hands, provided everybody exercises common sense.”

Professor Chris Whitty urged caution that maintaining two metres was “essential”, adding: “This risk has not gone away.”

Also during the conference, Mr Johnson said that he intends to “draw a line” under the Dominic Cummings controversy and said he would not allow advisors Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance to answer questions on the row to “protect them” from a “political argument”.

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He said: “I’ve said quite a lot on this matter already and what I also note is that what Durham police said was that they were going to take no action and that the matter was closed.

“And I intend to draw a line under the matter, as I said yesterday to the Parliamentary Liaison Committee.”

“It’s very, very important that our medical officers and scientific advisers do not get dragged into what I think most people would recognise is fundamentally a political argument.”

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