As of May 17, the government will set guidelines in force since March 2020 that people in England should socially distance themselves from anyone outside their household or bladder – two meters apart.
Instead, people are told that they can choose whether to socially distance themselves from family and close friends.
This means that people can choose to hug, kiss, or shake hands with friends or relatives in the park or at home.
Importantly, this is aimed at people who meet within legally permitted group sizes – six inside, 30 outside.
This does not apply to people from two different small gatherings hugging or strangers hugging in the street or in a pub.
People are encouraged to exercise their personal judgment in accordance with the risks.
You are urged to remain cautious as some people are more prone to serious illness than others and vaccines don’t rule out the risk of Covid.
People don’t need to do a lateral flow test before hugging, but doing so is one way to reduce the spread of the disease. Likewise, people could meet inside or with the windows open or wear masks if they so choose.
There is no limit to the amount of time you can spend in a day with people, or the amount of time you can spend in a pub or restaurant.
Officials characterize the change as a step towards “living with” coronavirus in the future.
They add that it is by no means the end of counseling on social distancing – and legal restrictions remain in place.
They stress that close contact with an infectious person is still the most likely cause of the spread of the coronavirus.