Social distancing has been a feature of life since the start of the pandemic.
But the rules are changing across the UK.
How many people can I meet?
Almost all legal restrictions are being lifted on 19 July.
This means an end to the “rule of six” – including how many friends you can have at your home, or meet at a pub.
It also means an end to capacity limits at events.
The government says people should still “consider the risks of close contact”, particularly if someone is clinically extremely vulnerable, or not fully vaccinated.
Social distancing is still required in certain circumstances:
- When travellers enter the country, before border control
- Hospitals and care homes may use it to reduce the chance of infections
You can find the rules and guidance for before 19 July here.
From 17 July, an extended household, or up to six people from different households, can meet indoors in private homes, hospitality settings and holiday accommodation.
People do not need to socially distance outdoors, but businesses can set their own rules.
You should remain 2m away from others indoors, apart from in certain business settings.
If the Covid situation allows, social distancing rules – including indoors – will end on 7 August.
You can find the rules and guidance for before 17 July here.
The whole of Scotland is being put on Covid protection level zero, on Monday 19 July. This means:
Eight people from four households can meet in private homes, 10 people from four households in indoor public places, and 15 people from 15 households outdoors.
Under-12s do not count towards the total number of people or households outside, but count towards the household numbers indoors.
In a private home – and in a group of up to 15 people – you do not need to socially distance. However, you should keep 1m from those outside the group.
You should keep 1m from other households in all indoor public settings
It is hoped restrictions will be relaxed further on 9 August.
You can find the rules for all alert levels here.
Rules are set to be relaxed on 26 July (if plans are approved on 22 July). The 2m guidance now in place, will drop to 1m indoors and will be scrapped outdoors and on public transport.
In the meantime:
- Six people from two households can meet in private homes (under-13s not counted), or 15 from 10 households in a garden
- Six people (or 10 from a single household) can meet at pubs and restaurants indoors and outdoors (under-13s not counted)
- You should stay 2m away from others, apart from in some faith practices
- You can be 1m apart in hospitality settings and indoor attractions such as cinemas if precautions are taken
- You should be “cautious and careful” about hugs
What about face masks?
In England, the legal requirement to wear a face covering in enclosed public spaces ends on 19 July. But the government “expects and recommends” people wear them in crowded areas such as public transport.
In Scotland, masks must still be worn in shops and on public transport – as well as pubs and restaurants when not seated. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said rules on face coverings will remain in place “in all likelihood” for some time
In Wales, masks are still legally required in all public indoor areas, apart from when seated to eat or drink. If there is a move to alert level zero on 7 August, masks will still be required in most public places and on public transport
In Northern Ireland from 26 July (if plans are approved on 22 July) face coverings will no longer be compulsory in places of worship, or for students in school classrooms. They must still be worn on public transport and in shops and hospitality venues
Why is social distancing important?
Coronavirus spreads mainly when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks – sending small droplets, packed with the virus, into the air.
The further apart people are, the lower the risk of the infection spreading.