Government wants to see contact between family and friends ‘restored’ - as PM gets set to announce latest restriction easing in May 17

The Government wants to see intimate contact between friends and family ‘restored’ as it is expected to set out further easing of restrictions in England.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said the Prime Minister will confirm on Monday, May 10, the relaxation of rules for the next stage of the road map out of lockdown, which is due to take effect from May 17.

Most social contact rules outdoors are expected to be lifted, although gatherings of more than 30 will remain illegal.

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Indoors, the rule of six or two households will apply, with indoor hospitality, entertainment venues such as cinemas and soft play areas and the rest of the accommodation sector among the sectors to reopen.

Michael Gove says the government wants to see 'intimate contact' restored (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Mr Gove told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “All being well, the Prime Minister will confirm tomorrow that there will be a relaxation, we’ve 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.”

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Asked if pupils wearing masks in school would be coming to an end, Mr Gove added: “We’re reviewing the evidence at the moment and, of course, what we want to do throughout is balance public health by making sure we can return to normal as quickly as possible.”

It came as the head of the Oxford University vaccine group said he believed it is the right time to ease further restrictions in England.

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Professor Andrew Pollard was asked on the Andrew Marr Show whether it would be safe for family and friends to hug on May 17, when England is set to move to stage three of the road map out of the coronavirus lockdown.

He said the country has seen the “extraordinary success” of both the vaccination programme and the “prolonged” lockdown.

“I think it is time to start, based on the very careful modelling that’s been done, relaxing some of those restrictions,” he said.

“That means we’re in a very fortunate position here in the UK.”

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