COVID restrictions 2021

Updated: Monday 12 April 2021

The next stage of relaxations to restrictions start on Monday 12 April

The government has published a roadmap which sets out provisional dates out of the current lockdown for England. Moving to the next step requires meeting four tests. Rules for what you can and cannot do changed on 12 April. Full details and exemptions are on GOV.UK.

Please note you must not mix indoors with other households.

What can I already do?

  • All the changes relating to schools childcare remain
  • People can meet outside - including in private gardens - in groups of up to six, or as two households (support bubbles count as part of a household)
  • The stay-at-home rule has ended - guidance is to minimise travel
  • Outdoor sport facilities can reopen, including golf courses, tennis and basketball courts, and outdoor swimming
  • Organised outdoor sports are allowed  

Stage two (from 12 April):

  • All shops can open as can most outdoor attractions like zoos and theme parks, but you should only visit indoor settings with people you live with
  • Six people, or two households if a larger number, can sit outdoors in hospitality open to serve food or drinks to tables
  • Hairdressers, beauty salons and other close-contact services can open 
  • Gyms and spas can open
  • Libraries and community centres can open
  • People can stay overnight in self-contained accommodation with those they live with (or in a support bubble) for a holiday in England
  • Weddings can take place, attended by up to 15 people
  • Funerals can be attended by up to 30 people, with 15 at wakes
  • Children will be able to attend any indoor children's activity
  • Care home visitors can increase to two per resident

Step 1 - 8 March

Step 2 - COVID-19 roadmap

Step 2 - COVID-19 roadmap

Step 4 - COVID-19 roadmap

Text description of roadmap visuals

Step 1

8 March

  • Schools and colleges are open for all students. Practical Higher Education Courses
  • Stay at home
  • Recreation or exercise outdoors with household or one other person
  • No household mixing indoors
  • Wraparound childcare
  • Funerals (30), wakes and weddings (6)

29 March

  • Rule of six or two households outdoors
  • No household mixing indoors
  • Outdoor sport and leisure facilities
  • Organised outdoor sport allowed (children and adults)
  • Minimise travel
  • No holidays
  • Outdoor parent and child groups (up to 15 parents)

Step 2

At least five weeks after Step 1, no earlier than 12 April.

  • Indoor leisure (including gyms) open for use individually or within household groups
  • Rules of six or two households indoors
  • No household mixing indoors
  • Outdoor attractions, such as zoos, theme parks and drive-in cinemas
  • Libraries and community centres
  • Personal care premises
  • All retail
  • Outdoor hospitality
  • All children’s activities, indoor parent and child groups (up to 15 parents)
  • Domestic overnight stays (household only)
  • Self-contained accommodation (household only)
  • Funerals (30), wakes, weddings, receptions (15)
  • Minimise travel
  • No international holidays
  • Event pilot begins

Step 3

At least five weeks after Step 2, no earlier than 17 May.

  • Indoor entertainment and attractions
  • 30 person limit outdoors
  • Rule of six or two households indoors (subject to review)
  • Domestic overnight stays
  • Organised indoor adult sport
  • Most significant life events (30)
  • Remaining outdoor entertainment (including performances)
  • Remaining accommodation
  • Some large events (except for pilots) – capacity limits apply
    • Indoor events: 1,000 or 50%
    • Outdoor other events: 4,000 or 50%
    • Outdoor seated events: 10,000 or 25%
  • International travel – subject to review.

Step 4

At least five weeks after Step 3, no earlier than 21 June. By Step 4, the government hopes to be able to introduce the following (subject to review):

  • No legal limits on social contact
  • Nightclubs
  • Larger events
  • No legal limit on life events

New government rules on campaigning

To ensure that the electorate can be as informed as possible about the choices before them in these elections, the government has changed legislation to enable a range of COVID-secure campaigning nationally.  From Monday 8 March, door to door canvassing can go ahead only for those directly campaigning on the May elections.

When leafleting and canvassing, campaigners must follow COVID secure rules at all times.

These include wearing face coverings, staying two metres apart and two metres from doorsteps and not entering a private homes. For more details visit the GOV.UK website

Meeting other people

When around other people, stay two metres apart from anyone not in your household.  

You must wear a face covering in many indoor settings, such as shops or places of worship where these remain open, and on public transport, unless you are exempt. This is the law.

Support and childcare bubbles

A support bubble is a support network which links two households. You can form a support bubble with another household of any size only if you are eligible.

You can meet indoors and stay overnight with your bubble.

If you live in a household with anyone aged under 14, you can form a childcare bubble.

Protecting people more at risk from coronavirus

Guidance on shielding ended 1 April 2021.


Please minimise travel, and plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport. This will allow you to practice social distancing while you travel.

Avoid car sharing with anyone from outside your household or your support bubble.

If you need to use public transport, you should follow Transport for Greater Manchester advice.

Places of worship

You can attend places of worship for a service. However, you must not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble. You should maintain strict social distancing at all times.

Sports and physical activity

Indoor gyms and sports facilities can now open as well as outdoor sports and leisure.

Weddings, civil partnerships, religious services and funerals

Weddings, civil partnership ceremonies and funerals are allowed with limits on attendance, and must only take place in COVID-19 secure venues or in public outdoor spaces unless in exceptional circumstances.

Funerals can be attended by a maximum of 30 people with 15 people at wakes.

Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies must only take place with up to 15 people. Receptions of up 15 people can take place outdoors (not private gardens).

Businesses and venues

Businesses and venues which must remain closed

The businesses that must close include:

  • Indoor hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs
  • Non self-contained accommodation (where facilities are shared)
  • Entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, museums and galleries, casinos, amusement arcades, bingo halls, indoor play and soft play centres.
  • Community centres and halls must close except for a limited number of exempt activities.

For more information on businesses and places wand any exempt activities see GOV.UK for further details

Businesses and venues which can remain open in addition to relaxations on 12 April:

These include:

  • Businesses providing repair services may also stay open, where they primarily offer repair services.
  • Petrol stations, automatic car washes, vehicle repair and MOT services, bicycle shops, and taxi and vehicle hire businesses.
  • Banks, building societies, post offices, short-term loan providers and money transfer businesses.
  • Funeral directors.
  • Laundrettes and dry cleaners.
  • Medical and dental services.
  • Vets and retailers of products and food for the upkeep and welfare of animals.
  • Animal rescue centres, boarding facilities and animal groomers (may continue to be used for animal welfare, rather than aesthetic purposes).
  • Mobility and disability support shops.
  • Car parks, public toilets and motorway service areas.
  • Places of worship.
  • Crematoriums and burial grounds.

The majority of public services have continued to be open such as NHS services, recycling centres and courts and probation services.

This page was last updated on 12 April 2021

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