Hugging friends and family members you don’t live with has been off the table since the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020.
But Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed hugging between different bubbles is allowed again as of today, Monday May 17.
England has moved to Step Three of its roadmap out of lockdown. As part of that, rules on social distancing have changed.
Firstly, indoor mixing is now allowed, subject to the Rule of Six, or two households of any size.
People will also be allowed to meet up in groups of up to 30 people outdoors – up from six just.
Can I hug friends and family?
As of today, May 17, you can hug friends and family outside your own household or support bubble.
However, the government has urged cation over hugging.
Some people are “more vulnerable” to severe illness from coronavirus.
And people are being reminded that while having the Covid-19 vaccine does reduce the risk, it doesn’t eliminate it completely.
The PM has advised everyone use their “common sense” when it comes to cuddling friends and family.
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People don’t have to take a Lateral Flow test before hugging, but it’s one of the ways you can reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19.
Similarly, you could meet outdoors, open the window, or wear a mask.
Keep in mind that wider social distancing rules remain in place, such as in public venues like pubs and restaurants.
Mr Johnson told a Downing Street press conference: “This doesn’t mean we can suddenly throw caution to the winds.”
He continued: “In fact, more than a year into this pandemic we all know close contact such as hugging is a direct way of transmitting this disease.
“So I urge you to think about the vulnerability of your loved ones, whether they’ve had a vaccine, one or two doses, or whether there’s been time for that vaccine to take effect.
“Remember outdoors is always safer than indoors, and if you’re meeting indoors, remember to open a window and let in the fresh air.
“Keep getting tested regularly even if you don’t have symptoms so you don’t spread the virus without knowing it.”
What are the other changes from May 17?
- Indoor mixing will be allowed for groups of up to six people from different households, or two households of any size
- Overnight stays will be allowed, subject to the rule of six
- Groups of up to 30 people can gather outside
- Social distancing between friends and family relaxed to allow close contact
- Indoor hospitals return, with no curfew, but table service only
- Indoor entertainment venues, such as museums, cinemas and children’s play areas will be allowed to reopen
- All remaining accommodation can reopen, including hotels, hostels and B&Bs
- Large events, including concerts and sports events will be permitted with limits of capacity
- Weddings, receptions and commemorative events can have 30 attendees
- For funerals the cap on numbers will be lifted
- Up to five named visitors can visit care homes
- Pupils at secondary school and colleges will no longer be required to wear face coverings in classrooms or communal areas
- University students can return to in-person teaching
- Ban on international travel will be lifted, with traffic light system in place