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Hancock: I'll be hugging my mum for the first time in nine months after May 17
11 May 2021, 08:54
Health secretary Matt Hancock has revealed that his mum will be the first person he hugs as coronavirus restrictions ease next week, after not seeing her for around nine months.
Speaking to Nick Ferrari at breakfast on LBC today, he revealed that he has not seen his mum in person since July or August but is looking forward to being reunited after May 17 when people will be free to choose whether or not to socially distance with close family and friends.
Mr Hancock explained that his mum has received both vaccinations and said he “can’t wait to see her”.
The latest easing of restrictions was confirmed by prime minister Boris Johnson at a press conference yesterday, and comes as the UK’s covid alert level is lowered from four to three.
Mr Johnson said it represented a "considerable step on the road back to normality".
As well as hugging their loved ones, people in England will also be able to meet indoors in groups of six or two households, or outdoors in groups of up to 30.
May 17 will also see the reopening of indoor entertainment such as museums and cinemas and a relaxation of limits on funeral guests and care home visitors.
The ‘Stay in the UK’ restriction will also be lifted and face coverings will no longer be recommended in classrooms or communal areas in secondary schools and colleges.
Mr Johnson thanked the British public for their “patience and for the sacrifices that [they] had been making”, and said that the roadmap remained on track for the next stage on June 21.
He said that the government would soon lay out what role social distancing will play after that, as well as whether there will be a need for Covid certification status, sometimes called 'vaccine passports'.
Despite the relaxation of restrictions, Johnson urged people to consider the vulnerability of their loved ones and England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty urged particular caution around the Indian variant, which has "gone up very sharply" in numbers and may be more transmissible than than the current dominant variant in the UK.
However, at present the Indian variant is thought to be "less likely to be able to escape vaccination than some of the other variants", although Pfizer has said it has a strategy to tweak its vaccine to address numerous variants if the need arises.