Lockdown rules: Government planning to expand ‘household group’ so people can meet more friends and family

LONDON, ENGLAND  - MAY 11: British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, takes a walk in St. James park in the morning ahead of meeting with Parliament later in the day on May 11, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. The prime minister announced the general contours of a phased exit from the current lockdown, adopted nearly two months ago in an effort curb the spread of Covid-19. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)
Boris Johnson's government published new lockdown regulations on Monday afternoon. (Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

The government has said it is considering allowing people to expand their “household group” so they can mix with people from one other household during the coronavirus lockdown.

In Number 10’s new “COVID-19 recovery strategy”, published on Monday afternoon, the government said this would “allow those who are isolated some more social contact” and “reduce the most harmful effects of the current social restrictions”.

On Sunday, Boris Johnson announced that from Wednesday, people can meet one person from a different household in outdoor spaces as long as both follow social distancing guidelines.

But the move outlined in the government’s strategy seems to suggest people could be allowed to engage in social contact with their closest family members or friends at close quarters – whether indoors or outdoors.

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The guidance reads: “The government has asked SAGE [the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies] to examine whether, when and how it can safely change the regulations to allow people to expand their household group to include one other household in the same exclusive group.

“The intention of this change would be to allow those who are isolated some more social contact, and to reduce the most harmful effects of the current social restrictions, while continuing to limit the risk of chains of transmission.

“It would also support some families to return to work by, for example, allowing two households to share childcare.”

The government also said it was examining how to enable people to “gather in slightly larger groups to better facilitate small weddings”.

The measures would form part of “Step Two” of the government’s plan, which is not expected to take effect before 1 June.

The document’s publication follows uncertainty about the government’s messaging following Johnson’s address to the nation on Sunday, in which he announced the lifting of some lockdown restrictions.

Following his speech, confusion reigned over what the exact regulations for meeting family and friends in outdoor spaces were.

It was later briefed that people can sit in a park with one other person from a different household, as long as a two-metre distance is maintained.

The confusion was then compounded when foreign secretary Dominic Raab said people could meet different family members separately on the same day.

On Monday, Johnson and his government were criticised by figures ranging from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to This Morning presenters Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield over the issue.

Schofield complained: “What are we allowed to do? Are you genuinely saying we can only meet one parent? Can you meet one parent in the morning and another parent in the afternoon? Can you go round to their house or does it have to be outside?

“What do you mean?”

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