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Can we hug yet? Latest on social contact ahead of May 17 rule changes

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Boris Johnson‘s lockdown roadmap is due to reach its next milestone this month, with further restrictions due to relax. Already Britons have been able to enjoy food and drink outdoors, meet with up to six people outside and visit non-essential shops, but more is to come.

Lockdown rules have been in place for more than a year, as Britain struggled to battle the quick-spreading coronavirus pandemic.

Now a third of adults in England have had both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, NHS England said, paving the way for further rule relaxations.

The Prime Minister laid out his roadmap out of lockdown, giving specific dates for previously banned activities resuming.

Boris Johnson is due to address the nation on Monday, May 10 to give a much-anticipated update on lockdown rules.

Read More: Children under 11 suffer extreme anxiety in lockdown, study finds

So what can we do from May 17? Can we hug friends and family? Express.co.uk breaks down all we know.

Hugging friends and family outside of households has been banned under coronavirus restrictions for more than a year now.

However, soon this could all change, with hope given to Britons today.

Michael Gove told Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “Thanks to the success of the UK vaccination programme and also the good sense of people across the UK we can progressively relax measures.

International travel will resume, but freely only to countries laid out on the government’s green list, with restrictions and quarantine in place for amber and red list countries.

Indoor leisure facilities like cinemas, bowling alleys and bingo halls will be permitted to reopen.

Social distancing and mask-wearing rules will remain in place in these venues.

Of hugging or so-called “friendly contact” Mr Gove later told Andrew Marr: “Friendly contact, intimate contact, between friends and family is something we want to see restored.”

This could mean hugging is permitted from May 17, in a long-awaited relaxation of social distancing rules.

For the full scope of Mr Johnson’s announcement Britons will have to wait until Monday afternoon.

After May 17, the last phase in the lockdown roadmap is due to take place on June 21 – however, some restrictions on elements like crowd sizes may remain in place for a while longer.

From June 21, all legal limits on social contact will be lifted – a positive for weddings, funerals, festivals and nightclubs.

However, big events may face limits on the size of crowds – with football stadiums one example.

For the European Championship final – due to take place on July 11 – Wembley Stadium will be limited to 45,000, half its capacity.

Festivals may also be limited to crowd sizes, leading to the cancellation of several iconic events.

Boomtown, BST Hyde Park and Glastonbury have all pulled the plug on their events for 2021.

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