It is expected that England will move to Step 4 on 19 July, though the data will be reviewed after 2 weeks in case the risks have reduced. The government will continue to monitor the data and the move to Step 4 will be confirmed one week in advance.
Protecting yourself and others
You must still wear a face covering in many indoor settings, such as shops and places of worship, and on public transport, unless you are exempt or have a reasonable excuse. This is the law. Read guidance on face coverings.
If you are clinically extremely vulnerable
If you are clinically extremely vulnerable, you are no longer advised to shield. However, you should continue to follow the guidance for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable and are advised to continue taking extra precautions to protect yourself, such as limiting close contacts, shopping or travelling at quieter times of the day, keeping rooms ventilated and washing your hands regularly. Your employer is required to take steps to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace.
If you have been vaccinated against COVID-19
To help protect yourself and your friends, family, and community you should continue to follow all of the guidance on this page even if you’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19.
The vaccines have been shown to reduce the likelihood of severe illness in most people. Like all medicines, no vaccine is completely effective, so those who have received the vaccine should continue to take recommended precautions to avoid infection.
Whilst emerging evidence suggests vaccines are having an impact on transmission, we do not know by how much the vaccine stops COVID-19 from spreading. Even if you have been vaccinated, you could still spread COVID-19 to others, even if you do not display symptoms.
Meeting with others
Most restrictions on meeting people outdoors have been lifted, but gatherings must not exceed 30 people unless covered by a legal exemption, such as:
- for the purposes of work or volunteering
- to provide care or assistance for disabled or vulnerable people
If you are meeting friends and family, you can make a personal choice on whether to keep your distance from them, but you should still be cautious. You should read the guidance on meeting friends and family.
It is safer to meet people outdoors. This is because COVID-19 spreads much more easily indoors. However, you can meet up indoors with friends and family you do not live with, either:
- in a group of up to 6 from any number of households (children of all ages count towards the limit of 6)
- in a group of any size from up to two households (each household can include an existing support bubble, if eligible)
You can meet in a group of 6 or a larger group of any size from up to 2 households (including their support bubbles) indoors in places such as:
- private homes
- indoor hospitality venues, such as restaurants, bars and cafes
- indoor sports and leisure facilities, such as gyms, sports courts, and swimming pools
- personal care, such as spas
- indoor entertainment and visitor attractions, such as museums, theatres, and indoor play areas
If you are eligible to form a support bubble, you and your support bubble count as one household towards the limit of 2 households when meeting others indoors. This means, for example, that you and your support bubble can meet with another household, even if the total group size is more than 6 people.
Businesses and venues
Further venues are permitted to open. You can visit indoor venues in a group of up to 6 people from different households or a larger group of any size from up to 2 households including support bubbles.
COVID-secure rules, including social distancing requirements, continue to apply in the workplace, and in businesses and public venues.
Businesses and venues which can reopen
Indoor areas at hospitality venues (cafes, restaurants, bars, pubs, social clubs, including members’ clubs) can reopen. At any premises serving alcohol, customers will be required to order, be served and eat/drink while seated (“table service”). Venues are prohibited from providing smoking equipment such as shisha pipes, for use on the premises.
Indoor entertainment venues such as bingo halls, bowling alleys, and casinos may also reopen, as can indoor parts of outdoor attractions such as theme parks and animal attractions. Outdoor and indoor performance venues such as cinemas and theatres are also permitted to reopen.
Businesses eligible to host childcare and supervised activities for children are able to host these activities (including sport) for all children, regardless of circumstances. Indoor play centres and areas may also reopen.
Businesses and venues which must remain closed
To reduce social contact, some businesses, such as nightclubs, must remain closed or follow restrictions on how they provide goods and services.
There is further guidance on restrictions on businesses and venues in England which explains which restrictions we will seek to ease at Step 4, subject to the outcome of the events research programme, social distancing and COVID-status certification reviews.
The following venues can remain open:
- non-essential retail shops
- public buildings such as libraries and community centres
- accommodations such as hotels, B&Bs, hostels, guest houses, campsites
- animal attractions
- personal care facilities such as hair, beauty, tanning and salons, spas, tattoo parlors, massage parlous
- outdoor attractions such as outdoor hospitality venues, zoos, theme parks, and drive-in cinemas
- Self-contained accommodation such as campsites and holiday lets, where indoor facilities are not shared with other households
- essential retail such as food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, building merchants and suppliers of building products and off-licences
- market stalls selling essential retail
- businesses providing 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
- agricultural supplies shops
- mobility and disability support shops
- storage and distribution facilities
- car parks, public toilets and motorway service areas
- outdoor playgrounds
- outdoor parts of botanical gardens and heritage sites for exercise
- places of worship
- crematoriums and burial grounds
- leisure and sports facilities
Going to school, college or university
School pupils and students in further education should go to school and college.
All schools, colleges and other further education settings are open for face-to-face teaching during term time. It remains very important for children and young people to attend, to support their wellbeing and education and to help working parents and guardians.
Clinically extremely vulnerable pupils and students should go to school or college.
There is further guidance on what parents need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges during COVID-19.
Rapid lateral flow testing is now available for free for everyone in England. It is recommended for all secondary school pupils and college students, their families and all school and college staff.
All students are now able to resume in-person teaching and learning. Students should take a test before they travel to a non-term residence.
From 21 June, out-of-school settings can organise domestic residential visits for children in consistent groups of up to 30 children. This replaces the current limit of 6 people or 2 households.
For information on childcare, read our article.
Gathering in larger groups
Larger gatherings mean they are above the limit of 6 people or 2 households indoors, or above 30 people outdoors.
You may gather in larger groups:
- to provide emergency assistance, and to avoid injury or illness, or to escape a risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
- to fulfil legal obligations
- to carry out activities related to buying, selling or moving house
- for the purpose of COVID-secure protests or picketing where the organiser has taken the required precautions, including completing a risk assessment
- where it is reasonably necessary to support voting in an election or referendum (such as vote counting or for legal observers).
There is no longer a maximum limit of 30 attendees at funerals. The number of people who can attend a funeral will be determined by how many people the venue can safely accommodate with social distancing measures in place.
Funerals are especially important events to the family and friends of the deceased and this is reflected in the fact that throughout the pandemic, funerals have had higher numerical limits than other life events.
Linked religious or belief-based commemorative events, such as wakes, stone settings and ash scatterings can be attended by a maximum of 30 people, not including anyone working. Commemorative events can take place in a COVID-19 Secure indoor venue, or outdoors including private gardens.
Weddings, civil partnerships and commemorative events from 21 June
The number of people who can attend these events in a COVID-Secure venue or other venue (such as a garden of a private home) will be determined by how many people a venue can safely accommodate with social distancing measures in place, including guests of all ages and anyone working at the event.
A marquee or other structure in a private garden of a private home must have at least 50% of its walled area open at any time for it to be classed as “outdoors”, and for the limit based on safe capacity to apply.
Inside private homes, and in enclosed structures in gardens of private homes, weddings can only be held in line with broader social contact rules of up to 6 people or 2 households, except in the case of an urgent marriage where one of those getting married is seriously ill and not expected to recover (‘deathbed weddings’). These can take place in private dwellings with up to 30 people.
For those organising weddings in gardens of private homes or on private land, you will need to make your chosen venue as safe as possible. If you plan on having more than 30 people, you must complete a COVID-19 risk assessment to determine how many attendees will be able to attend, and follow Government guidance to make the event as safe as possible.
Going to work
You should continue to work from home where you can.
If you cannot work from home you should continue to travel to your workplace. You do not need to be classed as a critical worker to go to work if you cannot work from home.
Employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working. Where people cannot work from home, employers should take steps to make their workplaces COVID-19 secure and help employees avoid busy times and routes on public transport. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.
Meeting others for work
You can gather in a group larger than six people or two households indoors or in a group larger than 30 people outdoors where it is necessary for your work. When working, you should remain 2 metres from anyone you do not live with, or at least 1m with additional mitigations.
Working in other people's homes
Where it is reasonably necessary for you to work in other people’s homes you can continue to do so, for example if you’re a:
- social care worker providing support to children and families
You should follow the guidance on working in other people’s homes.
Where a work meeting does not need to take place in a private home or garden, it should not.
If you are worried about going to work
Support is available if you cannot work, for example if you need to care for someone or you have less work.
Up to 6 people from different households or a larger number of no more than 2 households can meet indoors without the need for a formal childcare arrangement. All children can go to registered childcare, childminders, wraparound care and other supervised children’s activities indoors and outdoors.
Parent and child groups can take place indoors as well as outdoors, with up to 30 people. Children under 5 who are accompanying a parent or guardian do not count towards this limit. See the parent and child groups section of this guidance.
Meeting others for childcare
Gatherings above the limit of 6 people or 2 households indoors, or above 30 outdoors can take place for the following purposes:
- for education, registered childcare, and supervised activities for children - see further information on education and childcare
- for arrangements where children do not live in the same household as both their parents or guardians
- to allow contact between birth parents and children in care, as well as between siblings in care
- to place or facilitate the placing of a child or children in the care of another by social services
Parent and child groups
Parent and child groups can take place indoors as well as outdoors (but not in private homes or gardens) if they are for the benefit of children aged under 5 and organised by a business, charity or public body.
Parent and child groups must be limited to no more than 30 people. Children under five and anyone working or volunteering as part of the group, such as a group leader, are not counted in this number.
Care home visits
From 21 June some changes will be made to visits in and out of care homes.
For visits in to care homes, all care home residents will be able to nominate an essential care giver. These essential care givers will be able to visit the care home resident, even if the resident is isolating.
In most cases, residents who go on a visit out of a care home will no longer need to isolate for 14 days when they return. Residents returning from some higher risk visits out of the care home, such as an overnight stay in hospital, will still be required to isolate. Decisions on risk will be made following a risk assessment by the care home for each visit out.
The guidance on care home visiting will be updated by 17 June.