Families can now meet groups of relations or friends indoors – but there is a ban on hugging or touching.
Since July 4, any two households can meet together under the same roof, and even stay overnight, as long as they observe social distancing. This means families can now invite one set of grandparents over for lunch and then see the other set of grandparents for dinner, as long as they are not there at the same time.
The new rule also allows any two households to meet up in a pub, restaurant, museum or cinema, or even go on holiday together. There is no limit on how many people can gather, as long as no more than two households are meeting at the same time.
Existing rules allowing up to six people from up to six different households to meet outdoors remain in place, as does the rule that allows someone living alone to join a “support bubble” (see the ‘Shielding’ section below) with another household and be treated as if they live in the same home.
Boris Johnson has now said that the Government “will look to allow more close contact between friends and family where we can”, from October onwards and subject to the sustained decline of the virus.
Families will be told to choose one member to visit elderly relatives in care homes.
New Government guidance for the care sector – which bans flowers and hugs – says homes can begin allowing visitors shortly after they have undergone risk assessments of safety protocols.
The advice recommends “limiting the numbers of visitors to a single constant visitor per resident, wherever possible”. It says: “This, for example, means the same family member visiting each time to limit the number of different individuals coming into contact.”
Relatives will be told to wear face coverings and follow advice on social distancing as much as possible, keeping at least one metre away and avoiding handshakes, kisses or hugs.
The UK Chief Medical Officers extended the time period from seven to 10 days on July 30. They said that evidence – although limited – has strengthened, suggesting that individuals who are mildly ill with Covid-19 and are recovering have a real possibility of infectiousness between 7 and 9 days after illness onset.
In a statement published online, they said: “We have considered how best to target interventions to reduce risk to the general population and consider that at this point in the epidemic, with widespread and rapid testing available and considering the relaxation of other measures, it is now the correct balance of risk to extend the self-isolation period from 7 to 10 days for those in the community who have symptoms or a positive test result.
“This will help provide additional protection to others in the community. This is particularly important to protect those who have been shielding and in advance of the autumn and winter when we may see increased community transmission.”
The shielding programme, which was designed to protect the most medically vulnerable to the effects of coronavirus, is due to end completely at the end of July. The Prime Minister said that the Government will “be sure to restart shielding at any point” if it is required at a regional or national level.
In depth: Coronavirus vs flu and cold symptoms
Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, has published a list of countries and territories where the Government has abandoned its 14 day quarantine policy. However countries including Portugal, Canada and the US have been excluded from the list at present.
China, Brazil, Sweden and Russia have also been left off the list under a “traffic light” system that allows holidaymakers to travel abroad without having to self-isolate for two weeks when back in England.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said it is that “quite likely” that more countries will be added to the red list in the near future.
On July 26, it was announced that travellers arriving from Spain will have to self isolate for 14 days upon their return. The following day, the Foreign Office updated its travel advice and warned against all non essential travel to mainland Spain and its surrounding islands including Ibiza and the Canary Islands.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on July 30, Mr Hancock said that scientists were looking into ways to reduce the quarantine period.
In recent days, the Telegraph has learnt that under plans being finalised by ministers, quarantine for people arriving from Spain and other countries with high levels of coronavirus will be cut to 10 days.