Covid lockdown England: Matt Hancock says people CAN hug from May 17

Matt Hancock today confirmed people in England will be able to hug their family from May 17 under Boris Johnson‘s lockdown exit strategy. 

The Health Secretary said that by that date the most vulnerable groups in society will have had both doses of their coronavirus vaccine, paving the way for social contact rules to be eased. 

He admitted May 17 is ‘sometime off’ but he insisted ‘that is the earliest that we thought it was safe to be able to take that step’. 

The Government has set a new target of offering a first vaccine dose to every adult by the end of July.

Everyone in the top four most vulnerable groups – all those aged over 70 – has already been offered a first dose.  

Second doses will be offered no more than 12 weeks after first doses which means the top four cohorts will have received both doses by mid-May.

Mr Hancock said that is why the Government is proposing to ease social distancing to allow hugging of non-household family members in step three of Mr Johnson’s roadmap which is pencilled in for May 17. 

Asked if hugging would be allowed from May 17, Mr Hancock told BBC Breakfast: ‘Yes. That is right. And that is the same date which you will be able to travel and stay overnight. 

‘That is in step three, which is obviously five weeks after the step two changes that we were talking about a moment ago. 

‘We know that close contact is how this disease is passed on and so the reason for that timing is by then all of the most vulnerable groups will have been able to have two jabs and we know from the data that was published yesterday that the first jab is very effective in helping to protect you against catching Covid or hospitalisation or of course dying from it. 

‘But the second jab adds to that protection, adds further, but we do want to be cautious until the most vulnerable groups have been able to have both of those doses.’ 

He also told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Well, I hope that will happen from the 17th of May, that you will be able to go and stay away. 

‘That is sometime off. You and I, our parents both live in Cheshire and to be able to go and see them and stay overnight, not before the 17th of May. 

‘I appreciate that that is some time but that is the earliest that we thought it was safe to be able to take that step.’

Mr Johnson’s roadmap commits the Government to conducting a review of social distancing rules in the coming months. 

It states: ‘As soon as possible, and no later than Step 3, the Government will update its advice on social distancing between friends and family, including hugging.

‘Until then, people should continue to keep their distance from anyone not in their household or support bubble, and keep up habits such as regular hand washing and letting in fresh air.’


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