Hugs, indoor seating could return in England as rules soften

They are expected to include allowing up to 30 people to gather outside and lifting rules on social distancing between friends and family to allow hugging.

FILE: They are expected to include allowing up to 30 people to gather outside and lifting rules on social distancing between friends and family to allow hugging. Picture: Kaique Rocha/ Pexels.

LONDON, United Kingdom - The British government is to announce a timeline for lifting anti-virus restrictions in England on Monday including the reopening of indoor seating in pubs and restaurants and allowing hugs, Downing Street said late Sunday.

Johnson will hold a news conference on Monday afternoon set to announce a May 17 start for the third step in Britain's "roadmap" out of the crisis.

The government said Johnson would agree the exact measures with colleague and advisors on Monday morning.

They are expected to include allowing up to 30 people to gather outside and lifting rules on social distancing between friends and family to allow hugging.

Hospitality venues will also be allowed to serve people drinks or meals inside, as long as they are seated. Cinemas will reopen, as will some other large indoor venues after the government held several pilot events to test safety measures.

Previously Step 2 saw the reopening of hairdressers and non-essential shops.

There are four steps altogether with Step Four to see the lifting of all limitations on social contacts.

More than 127,000 people have died of coronavirus in Britain, the highest toll in Europe. But the UK's successful vaccine rollout has already administered first jabs to more than 35 million people.

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