'Rule of Six' to be reintroduced as limits on seeing friends and family are relaxed

Tony Diver
·2 min read
police - Getty 
police - Getty

Picnics and other outdoor meet-ups between two people will be allowed from March 8, Boris Johnson has announced, as restrictions on seeing family and friends are gradually released.

Current rules only permit two people from different households to meet outdoors for exercise, but the rule change will allow them to sit on a park bench, have a picnic or meet for a coffee. The meeting must take place in a public outdoor space, such as a park or high street.

From March 29, the number of people who can meet will increase, as the "rule of six" is reintroduced for outdoor meetings. Six people from up to six households will be allowed to meet outside, or an unlimited number of people from two households – allowing two families to spend time together or a small group of friends to meet.

At this stage, the requirement to meet in public will be abandoned, allowing six people or two households to get together in a private garden.

The guidance for the public to stay in their local area will also be lifted, allowing people to travel across the country to meet friends, but not to stay overnight or meet indoors.

Step 2, which begins on April 12, will not change rules on meeting friends, but individuals will be permitted to meet in a pub garden or dine al fresco at a restaurant "under the rule of six".

From May 17, people will be allowed to meet in groups of up to six in each other's homes or in hospitality venues. The limit of six people at a time will no longer apply to outdoor meetings, although meetings of 30 or more will remain illegal.

Nor will there be specific limits on the number of people in shops, but people will be encouraged to shop alone, discouraging shopping trips with friends.

The final details on Step 4, which begins on June 21, have not yet been finalised, but the Government hopes to get the country broadly back to normal by this stage, a source said.

June is likely to see the lifting of remaining restrictions on numbers and social contact, allowing much larger groups to congregate again. This stage could also see the return of nightclubs and weddings with unlimited numbers of people.