Restrictions ending: What you can do and when

This week sees the first stage of COVID-19 restrictions ending across England as part of the government’s roadmap for lifting the national lockdown. The first step of this roadmap has begun on Monday, 29 March.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stated: ‘We must remain cautious, with cases rising across Europe and new variants threatening our vaccine rollout. Despite today’s easements, everyone must continue to stick to the rules.’

outdoor cafe

Stage 1 of lockdown lifting: What can you do from 29 March?

  • You can have outdoor meetings with up to six individuals or as two households. This can be in private gardens.
  • You can go outside as the stay-at-home rule concludes. The government recommends staying ‘local as much as possible.’
  • Outdoor swimming pools, golf courses, tennis courts and basketball courts will reopen.
  • You will be able to go to weddings that are attended by up to six people, including yourself.

Stage 2: Restrictions ending on 12 April

The second stage in the government’s roadmap will mark the reopening of non-essential shops and services, including:

  • All retail (including non-essential ones),
  • ‘Close-contact’ services including beauty salons and hairdressers,
  • Pubs and restaurants with outdoor seating,
  • Personal care services such as gyms and spas,
  • Libraries and community centres, and
  • Outdoor entertainment facilities like zoos and theme parks.

With these restrictions ending, the limit for wedding attendees will also be raised to 15 people. Domestic holidays in self-contained accommodation will be permitted.


Stage 3: Restrictions ending on 17 May?

  • Up to six people or members of two households will be able to meet indoors.
  • Up to 30 people will be allowed to meet outdoors.
  • Pubs, cafes and restaurants can begin to seat patrons indoors.
  • Weddings with up to 30 attendees will be permitted.
  • Cinema and theatre businesses will resume, both indoor and outdoor venues.
  • Other indoor entertainment facilities will reopen, including museums and children’s play areas.
  • Large events and concerts can take place, albeit with limited attendance.
  • Hospitality services, like hotels and B&Bs, can reopen.
  • Group sports and exercise classes will be able to start.

Unless new laws are introduced, international holidays will resume as well.

Shop Sign says 'We are Open'

The fourth and final stage: 21 June

Stage 4 will mark the end of the third national lockdown. All legal restrictions on social contact will be discontinued. There will no longer be a limit on the number of people allowed to attend events.

However, there will likely be ongoing social distancing measures still in place.

But what about holidays abroad?

With the shifting lockdown rules in and around the country, various activities and amenities that people had been deprived of will become available over time. Still, there remains a significant question mark over the possibility of foreign holidays.

Current plans dictate that overseas leisure travel could resume from 17 May (stage 3), but that can still change.

The rise in COVID-19 cases and the slow introduction of the vaccine in continental Europe have rendered the future of foreign holidays uncertain.

A government taskforce will report on 12 April with a strategy to resume foreign travel. However, new laws may come into effect as soon as the first stage of lockdown lifting begins.

If the government passes these new laws, the holiday resumption date will be pushed back to at least 30 June. Travelling outside the UK without a ‘reasonable excuse’ will mean a fine of up to £5000.

What if you have already booked a holiday?

Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) indicates that you may get your money back if your holiday plans fall through due to COVID-19 restrictions. Suppose a business cancels your booking or cannot go on holiday due to the law restricting it. In that case, you may be entitled to a full refund.

If you choose to cancel your booking following government guidelines, you should be charged a cancellation fee sufficient to cover the business’s potential loss only, CMA suggests.

Several insurance policies cover people missing holidays due to contracting COVID-19 or being legally required to self-isolate. That is, of course, given that the policy was already in place before any such incident.

Suppose the holiday provider refuses to refund you for whatever reason. In that case, you may still be able to get your money back. When using a credit card, for payments between £100 and £30,000, you can claim services not provided under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. In the case of debit card usage, you will be able to obtain a refund under the chargeback scheme.



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