BRITS will be able to enjoy new-found freedoms from today as the next stage of the roadmap out of the UK's Covid lockdown begins.
But there are fears further unlocking could be delayed – after Boris Johnson held a press conference about the alarming spread of the new super-infectious Indian mutation on Friday night.
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The PM revealed 11 Covid lockdown changes at a press conference from Downing Street last week.
And indoor pints, hugs and holidays are finally on their way back.
Single adults will also be thrilled to know casual sex is also on the way back – because people are allowed to spend the night in different houses.
But Matt Hancock said the Government won't reveal plans for ending social distancing and mask-wearing on until June 14. The rules are currently due to end on June 21.
Last Monday, Mr Johnson told Brits: "Your efforts have so visibly paid off."
Before cases of the Indian variant more than doubled in the last week, Mr Johnson said the UK remained "on track" for all restrictions to end on June 21.
But speaking later that week, the PM admitted to being "anxious" about the mutation and said new measures may be needed in hotspots where it has emerged.
And in an address to the nation on Friday night, he confirmed full unlocking may yet be delayed.
It comes after it was revealed the super-infectious Indian mutation could be up to 50 per cent more transmissible than the Kent strain.
Sky's Sophy Ridge asked the Health Secretary "how likely" it is that the roadmap to freedom will be disrupted.
"It's the question everyone's asking, and the answer is it's too early to tell," Mr Hancock said.
"We're going to monitor the data – there's new data every day – and then announce a decision on June 14.
"We'll be as transparent as we can be."
In brighter news, today's unlocking will go ahead as planned.
Under the new rules, Brits will be able to meet inside – still following the rule of six or two household restriction.
Hotels and B&Bs will reopen, and would-be holidaymakers dreaming of a sunshine break will finally be able to take overseas trips.
Indoor entertainment and attractions are also set to open up – and groups can head to the pub and sit inside.
Indoor exercise classes will reopen, and those less active can finally head to cinemas and museums.
Theatre and concert performances – along with sports events – will also start to allow 1,000 people, or 50 per cent of the venue's capacity – whichever is lower – to start again.
Pilot tests will also be run to figure out just how such large events will be able to take place, using tests and even Covid passports to let people back in.
Under the rule change, weddings and receptions will be able to go ahead with 30 people.
The rules are different for funerals. Rather than having a strict limit, the capacity will be determined by how many people places of worship or funeral homes can safely have inside while mourners are social distancing.
Brits have been starved of hugs for over a year, and will be allowed once more to embrace each other sensibly when the next stage of lockdown lifts.
At the moment, anyone who doesn't live together is advised to keep at least 1.5 metres away from others to stop the spread of the virus.
But, as first revealed by The Sun, people have now will be told they can finally hug their close friends and family again.
Social distancing will remain in place in the weeks to come.
A small number of countries have been added to the UK's 'green list' – meaning quarantine isn't necessary upon a return to the UK.
They include Israel, Singapore, Portugal, the Falkland Islands, Ascension, St Helena, Tristan da Cunha, Gibraltar, Faroe Islands, Iceland and Brunei.
And New Zealand and Australia are also on the list – but they have their own entry requirements and are unlikely to let in tourists at the moment.
France, Greece and Spain are not yet on the green list – meaning Brits will have to wait until at least June 7 to find if they can go on holiday there this summer.
Under current plans, masks in shops and offices are heading for the chop on June 21.
Social distancing will also end.
Masks on trains and buses remain an option but possibly without the fines to enforce the measure.
But the UK's 'freedom day' may face setbacks amid the spread of the variant, expected to become the most dominant in the UK.
Under the first phase on March 8, schools reopened, and on March 29, the rule of six was reintroduced, allowing six people or fewer – or two households – to mix outdoors.
Shops, gyms, hairdressers and other non-essentials opened across the nation last month, with pubs, restaurants, cafes reopening and serving customers outside.
Punters queued up at midnight to get their first pints in, or get their hair snipped.
People do not have to buy a substantial meal when they grab a pint with the previous rule dropped.
Those keen for a weekend escape are also now allowed domestic overnight stays with their household.
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