Families will be allowed to travel across England to meet up outdoors at Easter and could travel abroad from mid-May, under Boris Johnson’s new “unlockdown” plans.
From March 29, relatives will be able to travel hundreds of miles across England to reunite in gardens or parks, but will not be allowed to stay overnight.
The move means that millions of families who have not seen each other since before Christmas will finally be legally permitted to meet up in person. They will be allowed overnight stays from May 17.
International travel could start as early as May 17, if it is approved by a new “Global Travel Taskforce” that is being set up by the government to assess the risk of importing new variants of the virus from overseas.
It is currently illegal to travel out of the UK, even though many people have already been booking foreign holidays in anticipation of the success of the vaccination programme.
The taskforce, which will report by April 12, will have a clear ambition to facilitate greater outbound and inbound travel.
Johnson said that the April review date was agreed to allow the public to “plan for the summer”.
Ministers have given mixed messages in recent weeks over holidays, with transport secretary Grant Shapps advising against any booking of domestic or foreign trips and health secretary Matt Hancock announcing he plans to take a break in Cornwall.
The end of the current “stay at home” restrictions will mark a big shift in the ability of people to travel both within the UK and outside it over coming weeks.
From March 29, just days before the Easter bank holiday starting on April 2, families and friends will be allowed to travel for the first time in months to see each other.
Although ministers will encourage people to stay local where possible, the formal regulations will be flexible enough to allow long-distance journeys for meetings in gardens and parks.
From April 12, individual households will be allowed to go on holiday to self-catering accommodation or campsites where they can remain separate from other groups.
The new “Roadmap” published by the PM on Monday states that by March 29 “the lockdown will have been in place for twelve weeks, during which time
people will have been unable to see their extended family and friends or spend much time outside the home”.
“At this point, the Government will enable people to meet up in limited numbers outdoors, where they are less likely to catch the virus or pass it on,” it states.
On foreign travel, it makes clear that May 17 is the earliest possible moment for changes.
“The Global Travel Taskforce will report on 12 April with recommendations aimed at facilitating a return to international travel as soon as possible while still managing the risk from imported cases and Variants of Concern.
“Following that, the Government will determine when international travel should
resume, which will be no earlier than 17 May.
“The decision on when international travel can resume will be dependent on the global and domestic epidemiological picture, the prevalence and location of any Variants of Concern, the progress of vaccine rollouts here and abroad, and what more the Government has learned about the efficacy of vaccines on variants, and the impact on transmission, hospitalisation and deaths.”