Hugging and kissing allowed from May 17 — as Boris Johnson reveals Britain is ‘on track’ for return to normality


FRIENDS and family will finally be able to hug and kiss from next week — with Boris Johnson revealing today Britain is “on track” for a return to normality.

Loved ones will be able to hold each other for the first time in months after the Prime Minister confirms Covid-19 rates have sunk low enough to proceed to the next stage of lockdown lifting a week today.

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Hugs and kisses will finally be allowed again from next week

The penultimate phase will allow indoor mixing and increase the cap on outdoor get-togethers to 30.

“Friendly contact” will also get the go-ahead in the first easing of social distancing measures.

Hotels can reopen, alongside cinemas and theatres as well as indoor exercise classes.

But people will still have to wear masks and stay 1.5 metres apart when meeting indoors unless they are with close family.

Yet the PM has been warned that it would be “morally wrong” to keep such social distancing measures in bars, shops and offices beyond next month.

Tory backbencher Steve Baker, from the Covid Recovery Group, an organisation of 50 MPs, claims that it is time now that “freedom truly means freedom”.

Step three of Mr Johnson’s recovery plan will kick in next Monday after the latest virus data confirmed plummeting death rates and case levels.

Yesterday there were just two confirmed deaths from the bug registered in the UK.


The PM will confirm the further easing of Covid restrictions this afternoon

Infection rates are at the lowest level since September and hospital admissions and patients continue to decrease or stay at low levels previously seen in July last year.

The PM will meet with his Covid war committee on Monday morning to sign off scrapping the Rule of Six outdoors and giving the green-light to mixing indoors.

Two households of any size, or six people from separate homes, will be allowed to come together in pubs and homes.

Mr Johnson is preparing to address the nation this afternoon to confirm the further easing of restrictions in seven days’ time.

Last night he said: “The data reflects what we already knew — we are not going to let this virus beat us.

“The road map 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 is because of the British public’s unwavering commitment that we are saving lives, protecting the NHS and controlling the virus.”

And yesterday Cabinet big beast Michael Gove confirmed “intimate contact” between family and friends will be restored from the expected May 17 date.

He told the BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show: “All being well, the Prime Minister will confirm that there will be a relaxation.

“We have already indicated a proportionate relaxation on international travel, very limited at this stage because we have to be safe.

“In the same way, as we move into stage three of our road map, it will be the case that we will see people capable of meeting indoors.

“And without prejudice to a broader review of social distancing, it is also the case that friendly contact, intimate contact, between friends and family is something we want to see restored.”

Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall said she shared ‘half a hug’ with her grandkids

But Downing Street is to face growing pressure in the coming days to lift all social distancing restrictions in June.

Ministers are currently reviewing the restrictive measures, but they will remain in place until further notice for office workers, shops, bars, pubs and in factories.

Yet the fears are that keeping the restrictions risks hampering the economic bounce back from the financially draining pandemic.

The Duchess of Cornwall has revealed she enjoyed “half a hug” with her grandchildren.

Camilla, 73, made the surprise admission despite this being forbidden until Mr Johnson confirms that projected May 17 easing is official.

She had spoken last year of the wish she had to hold her grandchildren once more.

When asked if she had been able to do that more recently as Britain continues to reopen, she said: “I have been able to. I have had a hug. I am doubly jabbed so we’ve had a sort of half a hug.

“It has been so lovely just to be able to see them again and talk to them.

“Telephones and machines and these Zooms are fine, but nothing is ever the same as being able to give somebody a good hug.”