Socialising from 17 May: What you need to know
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As we move into Step 3 of the Government’s Covid roadmap, Merseyside Police and partners are ensuring communities are up-to-date with the latest guidance on socialising indoors and outdoors.
With the news this week that cases of a Covid-19 variant first identified in India are rising rapidly in the Liverpool City Region, and the Prime Minister stating yesterday (Thursday 13 May) that he is "anxious" about its spread, we are also urging caution and asking the public to abide by the latest Public Health guidance.
From Monday 17 May, people will be able to meet friends and family indoors again – with a maximum of six people, or two households. Children of all ages count towards the rule of six.
Step 3 of the roadmap also means that restaurants, cafes and pubs will be able to serve people indoors again, with the same restrictions on numbers in place (a maximum of six people or two households). Other indoor venues such as cinemas, children’s play areas, and hotels are also allowed to re-open.
At indoor hospitality venues, customers will need to order, eat and drink while seated in order to help reduce the risk of Covid-19.
The decision to reopen nightclubs and large-scale events has not yet been made, and will be based on evidence around coronavirus rates at a later date.
The restrictions on socialising outdoors will also be relaxed from 17 May, meaning that up to 30 people will be able to mix outside. Football, sports and arts fans will also be able to attend outdoor events, with limited numbers in place depending on capacity.
Merseyside Police’s Head of Local Policing Matt Boyle said:
“We know that many people will be looking forward to the latest stage of the Covid roadmap – it’s a real step forward, and it will be a relief to no longer have to rely on British weather in order to meet up with people.
“It’s also an important time to support local businesses, some of which have been closed or operating at limited capacity since the pandemic started.
“But the recent surge in coronavirus cases locally is a timely warning for us all, and I hope it reminds people not to get complacent. Higher numbers of cases will likely put more pressure on local public services, put lives at risk, and jeopardise Merseyside’s progress out of lockdown.
“Alongside our partners, we have an extensive policing plan in place to support businesses, give advice, and help keep everyone safe, and will be ensuring venues and customers are following the rules at all times. Officers will also be stepping up patrols in busy town centres and outdoor areas.
“We want people to remember that Covid-19 still poses a risk to public health and the NHS. In order to get to Step four of the roadmap – hopefully on 21 June – we will need to be continuing in the right direction. This means respecting the rule of six, social distancing, and wearing a mask where required to help keep coronavirus cases down. We all need to play our part and work together.
“I’d like to thank local businesses and the hospitality sector for all of the safety measures they continue to follow in order to keep people safe. A huge thank you also goes to the general public, whose support has undoubtedly helped us get to this point."
Matthew Ashton, Director of Public Health at Liverpool City Council, said:
"It’s concerning that in parts of Liverpool City Region and in other parts of the North West, cases of Covid-19 are rising again.
“I’m confident that it is possible to enjoy the benefits of our new freedoms, whilst not being complacent and still acting responsibly. Covid-19 hasn’t gone away and there is always the potential for infection rates to rise rapidly. The Government may have relaxed the rules, but we need to keep our own local situation in mind if we want to avoid further lockdowns later down the line.
"So please stick to the rules, remember to use face coverings and remain socially distanced when required, get tested regularly and especially if you feel unwell, and take up the offer of a vaccine when your opportunity comes."
The Government’s Spring 2021 Covid-19 roadmap out of lockdown can be found at gov.uk.