11 things you still can't do in lockdown – and when you'll be able to do them


England is getting its first taste of lockdown freedom as beer gardens, hairdressers and non-essential shops open today.

Nail salons, libraries, zoos, theme parks and outdoor areas at restaurants, cafes and bars can also reopen under Step Two of the government’s roadmap.

Gyms, spas and swimming pools are opening for people attending alone or with their own household. Driving lessons can resume.

But all this does not mean the lockdown is over. Indoor social gatherings and hugging are still banned as fears rise about Covid “hotspots” in the north of England that could take off again.

So despite the good news, what are you still restricted from doing – and when might those things be allowed?

We take a look at the road ahead.

1. Gather indoors

Step Two only allows outdoor gatherings – and even these are limited to six people or two households, whichever is bigger.

Indoor gatherings are still illegal except for a limited number of exemptions, like work, education and attending a deathbed.

You may only gather indoors with people in your existing household or bubble. You cannot stay overnight with your family.

That means that while pubs and restaurants reopen, they will be limited to beer gardens and terraces, and table service only.

This rule changes on May 17 at the earliest, when indoor gatherings (and overnight stays) of up to six people or two households will be allowed.

At the same point, the limit on outdoor gatherings will be lifted to 30 people.



Hugs and indoor gatherings with family members are still a big no-no
Hugs and indoor gatherings with family members are still a big no-no

2. Hug your parents

While outdoor gatherings in pubs or restaurants are now allowed, people are still being advised not to hug or kiss.

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People who are in different households or bubbles should maintain a two-metre distance, or one metre with mitigations.

This will not change before May 17 at the earliest, when the government aims to issue some advice on physical contact.

This advice could deal with special circumstances such as hugging estranged partners or beloved family members.

However, it’s likely some social distancing guidelines will remain until at least June 21, and could even become a long-term fixture.

3. Go on holiday abroad

Foreign holidays remain illegal, with £5,000 fines for those who travel abroad without a valid reason.

This will change from May 17 at the earliest with a traffic light system, splitting nations into red, amber and green by risk level.

However, the government has not yet confirmed that holidays will definitely be allowed from May 17 and the date could be later.

Confirmation of when holidays can resume, along with a list of green countries, is expected around the start of May.

4. Go on holiday in England (unless you’re in the same bubble)

Self contained accommodation – campsites and holiday lets where indoor facilities are not shared with other households – can reopen from April 12.

That means people can stay in a self catering cottage in England – but only with their own household or bubble.

All other holidays in England remain banned, including any with other households. B&Bs and hotels remain largely shut.

These rules are not expected to change before May 17 at the earliest.



Beach huts in Cornwall. Self-contained stays with your own bubble are the only holiday allowed
Beach huts in Cornwall. Self-contained stays with your own bubble are the only holiday allowed

5. Find a new sexual partner

Guidance has almost totally prevented lovelorn Brits striking up a new physical relationship for almost a year.

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Unless someone joins your bubble – and bubbles are meant to be fixed and exclusive – you are meant to socially distance on a date.

Like hugging family members, this issue isn’t expected to be dealt with until May 17 at the earliest, and could be much later.



An amorous couple - but this scene has been off the cards for many young people for over a year
An amorous couple – but this scene has been off the cards for many young people for over a year

6. Go to the cinema or a theatre

Cinemas remain closed in Step Two of the roadmap, unless they are drive-ins. Theatres are also shut.

Both should be allowed to reopen from May 17 at the earliest, with theatres subject to special rules on large events (see below).



Cinemas remain closed in Step Two of the roadmap (file photo of a couple sharing popcorn)
Cinemas remain closed in Step Two of the roadmap (file photo of a couple sharing popcorn)

7. Go to a big gig or sports event

Apart from a pilot scheme of specific events, big concerts or sports fixtures won’t have spectators until May 17 at the earliest.

When they do resume in Step Three, indoor events will be limited to 1,000 people or half-capacity, whichever is smallest.

Outdoors, capacity of 4,000 people will be allowed, or half full, again whichever is smaller.

In the largest outdoor seated venues such as the biggest football stadiums, up to 10,000 people will be able to attend – or a quarter full, whichever is lower.

8. Have a proper wedding

The limit on wedding attendees is rising from six to 15 – and receptions can take place with up to 15 people too.

But it will be a long time before weddings are back to full strength.

From April 12 weddings and receptions can only happen in “Covid-19 secure venues that are permitted to open” – i.e. outdoors.

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They cannot take place in people’s private gardens, in parks, or in most indoor venues.

Even from May 17 at the earliest, there will be a cap of 30 on the number of people allowed to attend weddings and receptions.

The government is “aiming” to remove restrictions on weddings and receptions from June 21 at the earliest, but this depends on the outcome of event pilots and is not guaranteed.



Weddings (stock photo) will only be allowed for 15 people and outdoors, even from Monday
Weddings (stock photo) will only be allowed for 15 people and outdoors, even from Monday

9. Take a care home resident to the park – unless they isolate for two weeks

A ban on over-65s taking trips out of their care homes has been dropped from April 12 after the government faced legal action.

However, any care home resident who leaves the grounds of their home must isolate for 14 days on their return.

The government admits this will mean, practically, that very few residents want to make a trip to the park or a relative’s garden.

Instead family members are being encouraged to make visits to the homes themselves, where PPE and testing can be assured.

From April 12, care home residents can have two named regular visitors with whom they can drop social distancing.

It’s not yet clear when these rules will next change, but the government says they are kept under review.



Care home residents can go to the park, but must quarantine in their rooms for 14 days afterwards
Care home residents can go to the park, but must quarantine in their rooms for 14 days afterwards

10. Go to a sauna, steam room or exercise class

Saunas and steam rooms cannot open at this stage of the roadmap – and will open from May 17 at the earliest.

Also allowed to open in Step Three will be children’s play areas, and indoor adult sports groups and exercise classes.

11. Go clubbing

Nightclubs have now been shut for more than a year and their reopening is a long way off.

Boris Johnson hopes clubs will be able to open their doors from June 21 at the earliest, but they will look very different.

Those who survive the economic hit will likely have to ask punters for a Covid passport as well as their usual over-18 ID.

That could mean showing you’ve had a recent test, the vaccine or Covid antibodies, or a combination of the three.

Covid passports are still in development and it could take until June to have a solid, confirmed policy.





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