The four UK Chief Medical Officers have agreed that the UK Alert Level should move down from Level 4 to Level 3 and we are pressing ahead with Step Three of our roadmap from the 17th May changes. It remains very important that we all continue to follow the guidance closely and everyone gets both doses of the vaccine when offered.
Having previously operated outdoors only, including for takeaways, hospitality venues can now open indoors in line with the rule of six/two household rules. This is a huge step forward and will help many local businesses that have been struggling during the pandemic.
To show my appreciation of local business in Northampton, I met Tony Ansell last week at his Park Café in Abington Park – the Park Café is a stalwart of the community and Tony is a well-known local figure who has done so much for the town. The ability to reopen indoor hospitality is very much welcomed and I would encourage everyone to support local businesses after what has been a very difficult period.
We are able to relax the rules due to a combination of our world-leading vaccination programme and our national effort in adhering to the previously-imposed restrictions. At present, more than two-thirds of adults have been vaccinated once, with more than one-third having received both doses, but it is more important than ever to continue these efforts.
Included in the new changes: people can meet outdoors in group of up to 30. Up to six people (or two households if greater) can meet in indoor settings, with overnight stays allowed. In addition, hotels, B&Bs, and hostels may now reopen, as can indoor hospitality and theatres/stadia.
This period has been particularly challenging for the vulnerable, elderly, and those who have lost loved ones. Among the measures I am most pleased to see is the removing of caps on the number of people who may attend a funeral, instead this will be determined by the size of the venue. I too very much welcome the relaxation in allowing care home residents to name up to five named visitors as well as more freedoms in visits outside the home.
In education settings, there is no longer a requirement for secondary school pupils to wear face coverings, and all remaining university students may return to in-person classes.
For a full breakdown of the easing as of Monday 17th May, please see the following official advice: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/further-easing-of-covid-restrictions-confirmed-for-17-may.