COVID-19 restrictions will be relaxed in England on Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed today, despite concerns over the recent spread of the COVID-19 variant first seen in India.

Some scientists had earlier called for the relaxation of restrictions on Monday to be paused, by the Prime Minister said that despite the possibility that this variant could be more transmissible than previous variants, the early indications show that hospitalisations and deaths at this stage remain low and that it is hoped that the vaccine will continue to work against this variant.

Professor Chris Whitty did say at the briefing that the variant first seen in India would now likely become the most dominant strain of the virus in the United Kingdom over the coming months and that’s why we should all remain cautious as restrictions ease.

Outbreaks of the COVID variant first seen in India have been recorded in many areas of the United Kingdom, including in Northern Ireland, Scotland and areas of England, including both Bolton and Blackburn.

From Monday, the following changes will take effect:

  • Outdoors, most social contact rules will be lifted ‚Äď although gatherings of over 30 people will remain illegal.
  • Outdoor performances such as outdoor cinemas, outdoor theatres and outdoor cinemas can reopen.. Indoors, the rule of 6 or 2 households will apply ‚Äď although we will keep under review whether it is safe to increase this.
  • Indoor hospitality, entertainment venues such as cinemas and soft play areas, the rest of the accommodation sector, and indoor adult group sports and exercise classes will also reopen.
  • Larger performances and sporting events in indoor venues with a capacity of 1,000 people or half-full (whichever is lower) will also be allowed, as will those in outdoor venues with a capacity of 4000 people or half-full (whichever is lower).
  • In the largest outdoor seated venues where crowds can spread out, up to 10,000 people will be able to attend (or a quarter-full, whichever is lower).
  • Up to 30 people will be able to attend weddings and receptions. Other life events that will be permitted include bar mitzvahs and christenings.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said that the government will accelerate the administering of second doses to over-50s and the clinically vulnerable.