After months of being forced to forego physical contact with our loved ones, easing of restrictions will see hugging allowed once more in parts of the UK.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce at a press conference today (May 10) when hugging will once again be allowed in England.
This is what he’s expected to say - and when hugging will be allowed across all four UK nations.
When will hugging be allowed in the UK?
It’s expected that hugging will be allowed in England once again as the country moves to its next stage of unlocking on 17 May - when up to 30 people will be allowed to gather outdoors, and indoor hospitality will reopen.
The government is advising “cautious” hugging when it is allowed, with experts and leaders keen not to undo the progress made in driving down virus levels.
Speaking on Sky News on Monday morning, Minister for Mental Health, Suicide Prevention and Patient Safety, Nadine Dorries said hugs are “massively important for everyone”.
“I think it’s what most people have missed – that intimate contact with family and friends,” she said.
Wales has already relaxed its rules on hugging with family and friends, with people able to do so as of Monday May 3.
Scotland has planned a further relaxation of lockdown rules from May 17, but it’s not yet clear whether guidance on hugging will be relaxed from this date.
Similarly, it is not yet clear what Northern Ireland’s position on hugging will be as the country also seeks to relax restrictions in the coming weeks.
The UK’s overall Covid-19 alert level, however, has been moved from 4 to 3, indicating that rates are going down uniformly across all four nations - and this may influence relaxation on hugging rules.
What else will be allowed after the next stage of unlocking?
From May 17 in England, overnight stays will once again be permitted, while indoor hospitality can also open for up to six people per table.
Indoor entertainment venues like cinemas and theatres will also be able to open.
Similarly in Wales and Scotland, pubs will be able to open along with indoor entertainment venues on May 17.
Lockdown easing will come sooner for Northern Ireland, where relaxation of rules on indoor socialising will be relaxed from May 17.
The next stage after that will come in June, where the government are hoping most restrictions on socialising - such as social distancing - will be scrapped.
What is the PM expected to say at tonight’s press conference?
The press conference, expected to take place on Monday, May 10 at 5pm, will be hosted by the PM, who is expected to say:
“The data reflects what we already knew – we are not going to let this virus beat us.
“The roadmap remains on track, our successful vaccination programme continues – more than two-thirds of adults in the UK have now had the first vaccine – and we can now look forward to unlocking cautiously but irreversibly.
“It’s because of the British public’s unwavering commitment that we are saving lives, protecting the NHS and controlling the virus.”