Speaking on Monday, the minister for sport and tourism, Nigel Huddleston, said he appreciated the significance of today’s relaxations of Covid-19 restrictions. “Today is a really big day for millions of people, dying to get back to the things that they love,” Huddleston told Sky News.
However, the minister’s message was one of caution for those living in England.
"These are significant steps, but they’re cautious, baby steps, it’s not indoors yet, so please be sensible… It’s very much about outdoors and open space."
As of Monday, people in England are no longer housebound, but can now travel around the country and can visit friends and family outdoors in groups of up to six people or two households. People are still urged to work from home where possible, but outdoor sports are permitted.
Huddleston warned that the police can still implement fines if people are breaking the new, less restrictive, measures.
Despite the relaxations, the new restrictions still prevent people from travelling abroad for vacations. The minister called on Britons to plan for holidaying in the UK this summer and not overseas, adding “caution is the name of the game here.”
England was plunged into a new lockdown in early January as the emergence of the British variant of Covid-19 saw cases surge. All four nations of the UK have adopted slightly differing timetables for reopening the economy, with Scotland and Wales making the decision to move quicker. Scotland has already seen case numbers rise.
The next relaxation of restrictions in England will take place on April 12, allowing restaurants and pubs to open outdoors only.
Further loosening of Covid-19 restrictions are dependent on case numbers remaining low and the continued success of the vaccination programme.