Step 3 of the Government’s road map out of lockdown is now in effect, relaxing a number of the rules around social interaction, events, overnight stays and holidays. Key changes include:
- 6 people, or 2 households can now meet up indoors and up to 30 people can meet outside
- pubs, bars and restaurants can now open indoors with table service for groups of up to 6 people or 2 households
- overnight stays away from home are now allowed and hotels and B&Bs can reopen
- international travel and holidays abroad are allowed to certain countries, though rules and restrictions apply
- cinemas and theatres can reopen
- up to 30 people can attend weddings, outdoor receptions or wakes, with no limits on numbers at funerals
The Government also says that people can make 'personal decisions' about close contact with friends and family, such as hugging.
Further details about the restrictions now in place, plus frequently asked questions and answers, are available at COVID Alert.
John Denley, Wolverhampton’s Director of Public Heath, said: “The changes that have come into effect today really do feel like we are getting back to some kind of normality, but I appeal to everyone not to let their guard down yet.
“We’ve come a long way since the third lockdown was brought in at the beginning of the year. The roll out of the vaccine is going really well, with
over 135,000 residents now having had at least one dose. Meanwhile, infection rates remain low, although they have started to creep up again in recent days showing that we must remain vigilant – especially with new, potentially more transmissible, variants now circulating in many parts of the country.
"As restrictions are relaxed, there is a chance that we could see a spike in cases so we all need to take care and be sensible as we begin socialising more and meeting friends and loved ones we may not have seen in person for some time. Close contact still continues to carry a risk of catching or spreading Covid-19 and we all must consider that risk to ourselves and others.
“If you are meeting indoors, remember to open a window to let fresh air in and if you are meeting with groups of people outside you should still follow Hands, Face and Space guidance.
“You can also protect those around you by making testing part of your routine and getting a regular rapid Covid-19 test to reassure yourself that you don't have the virus, and by getting your Covid-19 jab as soon as you are able to.
"By doing all this, we will be able to keep ourselves and each other safe."
Superintendent Simon Inglis of Wolverhampton Police said: "We have all waited a long time for this next step and it brings with it the opportunity to get close to what we all remember as a sense of normality.
"We will all be afforded more freedoms in terms of socialising and meeting with others and this is welcome. However, it is still only the third step on a road map towards a full relaxing of restrictions and there are still rules that we all need to follow.
"Our officers and staff will be engaging positively with all licensed premises to ensure the rules for indoor hospitality are being followed, just like we did when we approached step 2 when outside drinking and dining was permitted.
"We will also be keeping a close eye on open public spaces to ensure that people can enjoy the new freedoms but don’t exploit the opportunity.
"In essence the rules are clear on the numbers allowed to gather both inside and out, so please stick to these in order that we can keep the recovery in Wolverhampton on track and reach that last step at the earliest opportunity.
"Can I offer a huge thanks for the overwhelming level of compliance we have seen recently with the current regulations and ask that you continue in this manner as we enter this next stage. As always, we are here to support and serve you and allowing us to focus on that activity as opposed to enforcing breaches of regulations is the best way we can deliver the best service possible."
For more information about rapid Covid-19 testing – for people without symptoms of the virus – please visit Lateral Flow Home Test Kits.
Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus is reminded that they should immediately self isolate and book a PCR test at GOV.UK or by calling 119.