Covid lockdown rules: Brits get first glimmer of freedom TODAY – and here's what you will be able to do from April 12

BRITS got their first taste of lockdown freedom today with up to six people allowed to meet outside and outdoor sports making a return. 

It marks the first step in Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown – with the next major easing of restrictions taking place on April 12. 

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Outdoor reunions with up to six family and friends, plus the return of organised sport and weddings, can all now resume in a huge boost to the public mood.

The ‘stay home' message has also been ditched, so it will not be illegal to travel to see relatives outdoors further afield. 

But Brits waiting to browse the shops or drink a fresh print will have to wait until April 12 – the next date in the PM’s roadmap. 

So what can you look forward to next month?

Pubs & restaurants can serve outdoors 

Hospitality venues will finally see a reopening after being shut for nearly four months – but can only serve customers outdoors. 

Customers wanting to eat and drink inside will have to wait until May 17, when hospitality will resume indoor service.

Some establishments have already started accepting bookings for the provisional dates and punters are snapping them up.

Earlier this month, The Sun reported how ministers have ripped up red tape and will allow venues to use gazebos and marquees outside – allowing some 9,000 more boozers to open.

Town halls have also been ordered to let bars and restaurants spill out on to pavements for a booming al-fresco April.

Gyms will be back open 

Indoor leisure centres – including gyms – will be allowed to open in a few weeks in a big boost to the nation’s fitness levels. 

But classes won’t be back on until May 17 under the plans, when restrictions will also start lifting for indoor gatherings.

Brits looking for their fitness fix can play sport outside from today, with tennis courts, swimming pools and outdoor classes all going ahead.

Non-essential retail can open 

Non-essential retail will finally reopen on April 12 in a major boost to the beleaguered high street.

All businesses deemed non-essential were forced to shut their doors because of the coronavirus crisis – including shops that sell clothes, toys and homeware goods.

But the reopening of non-essential retail comes a week after the Easter weekend – a crucial trading period for shops.

Hairdressers and zoos are back

Brits desperately in need of a trim will finally be able to get their hair done on April 12.

The PM's roadmap document states: personal care premises such as hairdressers, salons and close contact services"will all be able to reopen next month.

But the government has said people should only visit a hairdresser either alone or with someone from their household.

Hairdressers were ordered to shut for four months in the March lockdown last year, leaving millions desperate to get back to the salon.

Meanwhile, all of Britain's 141 zoos and aquariums will be allowed to reopen on April 12.

Many zoos have already implemented one-way systems, additional hand washing facilities, sanitiser stations and "viewing spots" painted on the ground, to encourage visitors to maintain the two-metre rule.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has urged Brits to be cautious before lockdown is eased further.

Speaking as restrictions were eased today, he said: "You'll no longer have to stay at home, but many restrictions will stay in place.

"You should continue to work form home if you can and minimise travel, avoiding the busiest times and route.

"You won't be able to go abroad holiday yet because we don't want people to bring back new variants of the virus when they return."

He added in another plea: "It's vital that we don't overdo it and risk all the progress we have made."

A No 10 source said: “Today marks the first real freedom for so many people who haven’t seen their loved ones for months.”

New rules which come into force today:

  • The ‘stay home' message has been ditched, so it will not be illegal to travel to see relatives outdoors further afield
  • Though the public are urged to minimise travel when they do meet up with friends and family
  • People will be allowed to meet with up to six others – or two households – outside
  • Weddings can resume again in small numbers
  • Outdoor sport has restarted with people allowed to play golf and go swimming outdoors again

Minister for sport Nigel Huddleston also today confirmed police will not break up large gatherings in private gardens as the Rule of Six resumes.

Mr Huddleston said the police will still hand out fines for large gatherings breaking the rules but "I recognise it's more difficult in people's private gardens”.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson, Health Secretary Matt Hancock and chief medic Chris Whitty urged people to remain cautious as cases rise in Europe and new variants emerge.

Nigel Huddleston, the minister for sport, said members of the public should “think carefully about how they travel” as the stay home rule is scrapped in England today. 

He said: “I think if people are travelling they need to think very carefully about how they travel, where they fill up for petrol, if they need food and so on.”

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