What is changing when Covid lockdown rules ease on May 17?

Zoe Nisbet and George Balisani at General Havelock pub. Picture: Roy Chacko

Manager Zoe Nisbet and owner George Balisani at Ilford's General Havelock pub, which is expected to reopen on May 17. Picture: Roy Chacko - Credit: Archant

Covid-19 restrictions will further ease when we move to step three of the government's roadmap out of lockdown, which is expected to be Monday, May 17.

But what is changing at step three, and what can reopen across Barking and Dagenham, Newham, Redbridge and Tower Hamlets from that date?

Here are your questions about step three answered:

Can pubs open indoors?

Yes, hospitality venues such as pubs, cafés and restaurants will be allowed to serve customers indoors from step three, albeit with some restrictions still in place.


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So, after eating and drinking al fresco since the step two rules came in on April 12, there will be no need to check the weather forecast every time you head to the pub or restaurant from May 17.

The Black Lion pub in Plaistow

Plaistow landmark The Black Lion is among many east London pubs planning to reopen on May 17. - Credit: Google

McCafferty's Bar in Seven Kings, The General Havelock in Ilford, The Black Lion in Plaistow and The Old George in Bethnal Green are among those across east London that are planning to welcome customers back once they can reopen fully.

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As is currently the case outdoors, table service will still be required - so check in advance, and don't forget to pre-book a table if you can.

Like in step two, venues won't have to serve a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks, nor will there be a closing time curfew.

However, customers will have to order, eat and drink while seated.

What indoor attractions can open at step three?

Indoor entertainment and visitor attractions will also be allowed to reopen from step three.

This includes museums and galleries, indoor and outdoor cinemas and theatres, concert halls, amusement arcades and adult gaming centres, bowling alleys and snooker and pool halls.

Valence House in Dagenham has received Arts Council funding to develop a new digital project. Pictur

Valence House in Dagenham plans to reopen on Tuesday, May 18, but visits to the museum need to be booked in advance. - Credit: Archant

Valence House in Dagenham will reopen on Tuesday, May 18, with visits to the museum needing to be booked in advance, while the Museum of London Docklands at West India Quay next to Canary Wharf plans to open its doors on Wednesday, May 19.

Families will be pleased to know that attractions like trampoline and adventure parks, such as Flip Out London E6 in East Ham, skating rinks, games and recreation venues and soft play centres will also be reopening.

What else can open from May 17 when lockdown eases?

Indoor events and remaining outdoor events, such as professional sports, business events and live performances, will be allowed from step three. Attendances will be restricted though (more on that below).

West Ham fans in the stands during the Premier League match at the London Stadium, London. PRESS ASS

Limited crowds could return to football and other sports from May 17. - Credit: PA Images

Venues like conference centres and exhibition halls can open.

People will be able to stay at holiday accommodation not already open, including hotels, hostels and B&Bs, as well as visit saunas and steam rooms, which are currently closed.

Indoor adult team sports and group exercise classes at gyms will also return.

How many people can attend events?

Indoor events recommencing at step three will be limited to 1,000 people or 50 per cent of the venue’s capacity, whichever is lower.

For outdoor events, the limit is 4,000 people or 50 per cent of capacity, whichever is lower.

Outdoor events at venues with seated capacity more of than 16,000 will be limited to a 25 per cent cap, up to a maximum of 10,000 people.

How many households can mix from May 17?

As part of step three, the government will look to continue easing limits on seeing friends and family wherever possible.

Isabell Friend,Lola Hazel and Scarlett Hunt enjoying a picnic in Barking Park

Isabell Friend, Lola Hazel and Scarlett Hunt enjoying a picnic in Barking Park - Credit: Ken Mears Photography

Most legal restrictions on meeting others outdoors will be lifted – although gatherings of more than 30 people will remain illegal for now.

Indoors, the so-called "Rule of Six" or two households will apply, including at home, but the government is keeping this under review.

Will social distancing still apply?

Yes. The government is due to update advice on social contact between friends and family, including hugging.

But until this point, people should continue to keep their distance from anyone not in their household or support bubble.

Before step four begins, the government will also complete a full review of social distancing and other long-term measures that have been put in place to cut coronavirus transmission, such as the wearing of face masks.

How many people can attend a wedding from May 17?

Under step three rules, weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are permitted for up to 30 people in Covid secure venues that are allowed to open. This is up from the 15 people allowed currently.

This limit will also apply to other types of significant life events, including bar mitzvahs and christenings.

Government guidance says receptions can also go ahead with up to 30 people in a Covid-secure indoor venue or outdoors. This includes private gardens.

Further details on receptions at this step will be updated by the government. 

How many people can attend a funeral?

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) said on May 3 that the legal limit of 30 mourners will be removed as part of stage three.

Instead, the capacity will be determined by how many people that indoor and outdoor venues can safely accommodate while maintaining social distancing.

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