May 17: What can open when COVID lockdown rules ease on Monday?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a COVID-19 media briefing in Downing Street, London, on Friday, May 14, 2021.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a COVID-19 media briefing in Downing Street, London, on Friday, May 14, 2021. - Credit: PA

With non-essential shops and hairdressers already welcoming back customers, many people will be wondering what can reopen at Step 3 of the government's roadmap on Monday.

A further easing of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions is planned for May 17, 2021. Step 3 of the government's roadmap out of lockdown will allow indoor hospitality again at pubs and restaurants.

Hotel and other holiday accommodation such as B&Bs can open again, and theatres, cinemas and indoor attractions will be able to welcome back customers and visitors.

Is Step 3 still taking place on May 17th?

Despite the spread of the Indian variant of coronavirus, Step 3 of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's roadmap out of lockdown will still go-ahead on May 17th.

From that date, pubs and hospitality will be able to serve customers inside, cinemas and theatres will be allowed to reopen along with other indoor attractions, and hotels and holiday accommodation can open their doors again.

At Step 3, up to 30 people will be able to attend weddings, receptions, and life events including wakes. The limit on mourners at funerals will also be lifted.

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The four steps set out in the national roadmap are designed to apply to all regions of England at the same time.

Following the move to Step 3, further settings will be permitted to open.

Unless a specific exemption exists, these must only be attended/used in line with the wider social contact limits at this stage – in a group of six people or two households indoors, or in a group of no more than 30 people outdoors.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned the Indian variant of coronavirus may make the roadmap 'difficult' ahead of Step 4 on June 21.

What indoor attractions can open from May 17th?

Visitor attractions and recreational venues can open both indoor and outdoor areas from Monday, May 17.

This includes:

  • Games and recreation facilities, such as bowling alleys, skating rinks, go-karting venues, laser quest, escape rooms, paintballing, indoor play and soft play centres and areas (including inflatable parks) and trampolining centres.
  • Water parks and theme parks.
  • Animal attractions at zoos, safari parks, aquariums, and wildlife centres.
  • Attractions such as botanical gardens, heritage homes and landmarks.

Most indoor and outdoor entertainment venues can open to the public.
This includes venues such as:

  • theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, arcades and bingo halls.

When can pubs open indoors?

Indoor areas of hospitality venues such as pubs and restaurants will reopen from Step 3.

Hospitality businesses across the country will be able to open up indoors from May 17th, albeit with some restrictions still in place.

After eating and drinking al fresco since Step 2 of lockdown easing on April 12, pubs can welcome back customers for a pint inside, rather than outdoor service only, while indoor dining will also resume in restaurants. 

What else can open from May 17 when lockdown eases?

Conference centres and exhibition halls will be able to open for conferences, exhibitions, trade shows, and private dining and banqueting events, subject to the capacity limits set out by the government.

Remaining holiday accommodation including hotels, hostels and B&Bs can reopen, as can saunas and steam rooms.

Indoor adult team sports and group exercise classes at gyms will return.

How many people can attend my wedding from May 17?

As part of the Step 3 rules, weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are permitted for up to 30 people in COVID-19 secure venues that are allowed to open. 

This limit will also apply to other types of significant life events, including bar mitzvahs and christenings.

Government guidance says receptions can also go-ahead with up to 30 people in a COVID-19 secure indoor venue, or outdoors. This includes private gardens.

At Step 4, the government hopes to remove all limits on weddings, civil partnership ceremonies and receptions. This will be subject to the results of the Scientific Events Research programme.

What about funerals?

The number of people able to attend a funeral from May 17 will be determined by the number that can be safely accommodated in the venue with social distancing in place.

When is Step 4?

The fourth step of the government's lockdown easing roadmap is scheduled for no earlier than Monday, June 21st. 

However, the threat of the Indian variant means this stage might be delayed.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden tweeted today (Saturday, May 15): "The crucial road map date for theatres, music venues and sports has always been step 4, so I understand this is an anxious time as we assess the situation over the next couple of weeks. 

"We continue to make good progress with the vaccine rollout and with testing the safe return of audiences through the Events Research Programme, but must accept we enter a period of heightened vigilance with the new fast-moving variant. 

"We will keep engaging with, and updating, organisations to allow everyone to plan their full reopening."

At Step 4 – at least five weeks after Step 3 – the government hopes to reopen remaining venues, such as nightclubs and adult entertainment venues, as well as lifting the restrictions on social contact and large events that apply in Step 3.

This is subject to the outcome of the Events Research Programme, and a review of social distancing measures.

Officials will also look to relax COVID-secure requirements on businesses, subject to the outcome of the reviews.

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