When will hugging return? What the roadmap says about giving hugs as loved ones start to mix again

Friends and families have been enjoying meeting up again after covid restrictions began to ease in March.

Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 2:02 pm
Hugging could return by May, so long as conditions allow

But one of the questions which has cropped up throughout the pandemic is when hugging will be allowed again.

The subject is covered under the Government’s roadmap, and there is potential hugging could return in May – but the Government is yet to confirm whether or not restrictions will be able to continue easing as planned.

The roadmap document states ‘Step 3’ of restrictions easing will come no earlier than May 17, when the Government will look to continue easing limits on seeing friends and family wherever possible, allowing people to decide on the appropriate level of risk for their circumstances.

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The document states: “As soon as possible and by no later than Step 3, we will also update the advice on social distancing 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.”

Obviously, hugging members of your own household has always been allowed.

The Government says it will also complete a review of social distancing and other long-term measures that have been put in place to cut transmission before Step 4, scheduled for June 21, begins.

The roadmap states: “This will inform decisions on the timing and circumstances under which the rules on one metre plus, the wearing of face coverings and other measures may be lifted.

"This will also inform guidance on working from home – which should continue wherever possible until this review is complete.”

Which other rules on social mixing outdoors and indoors could be eased on May 17?

Most legal restrictions on meeting others outdoors will be lifted if plans go ahead - although gatherings of over 30 people will remain illegal.

Indoors, the Rule of Six or two households will apply - we Ministers say they will keep under review whether it is safe to increase this.

Indoor hospitality

Most businesses in all but the highest-risk sectors will be able to reopen, but in all sectors, covid-secure guidance will remain in place.

Businesses will not be allowed to cater for groups bigger than the legal limits.

Indoor hospitality will reopen - and as in Step 2, venues can serve alcoholic drinks without the need for them to accompany a substantial meal, eliminating the “scotch egg” debate.

No curfew will be imposed, but customers will still have to order, eat and drink while seated.

Entertainment and attractions

Other indoor locations to open up in Step 3 include indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas and children’s play areas.

The Government will also allow some larger performances and sporting events in indoor venues with a capacity of 1,000 people or half-full (whichever is a lower number), and in outdoor venues with a capacity of 4,000 people or half-full (whichever is a lower number).

In the largest outdoor seated venues, where crowds can be spread out, up to 10,000 people will be able to attend (or a quarter-full, whichever is lower).

Indoor adult group sports and exercise classes.


Self-catering accommodation was allowed to reopen on April 12.

But under Step 3, the rest of the accommodation sector, including hotels, hostels and B&Bs, can reopen, with holiday destinations braced for a 'staycation’ boom.


Up to 30 people will be able to attend weddings, receptions and wakes, as well as funerals. This limit will also apply to other types of significant life events including bar mitzvahs and christenings.