Hugs and holidays are back as Covid restrictions are partially lifted across the UK, in the penultimate step of the long journey out of lockdown.
In England, up to six people can now meet inside and up to 30 outside, as pubs, museums, art galleries, cafes and cinemas welcome punters in from the cold. Foreign travel has resumed, though only a handful of countries are exempt from quarantine upon return.
Ministers are urging caution, and while the message is still that a full unlocking on 21 June is likely, they are managing expectations. The government line is that there are two causes for concern: vaccine hesitancy and the B.1.617.2 (or Indian) variant. Cases of the variant have been surging in pockets of the UK, including in Bolton where health officials have fast-tracked youngsters for vaccines to try to avoid a local lockdown, defying No 10’s rollout timetable.