Easter is coming but with Government restrictions still in place, it won’t be the same as in any regular year.
In 2020, Easter activities were curtailed by the first national lockdown. This time, it’s the third national lockdown that is in place but with several steps of gradually easing constraints on our lives.
We are still in Step 1 of the roadmap out of lockdown but moves into its next stage from March 29, ahead of transitioning into Step 2 from April 12.
But Easter can’t just mean being stuck indoors devouring a pile of Easter eggs from the local shop. There must be more we can do.
We’ve taken a look at the detailed roadmap and what the rules really mean. So how will all that affect Easter 2021?
Can you go out to a park or nature reserve?
Yes. Over the four-day Easter weekend, householders can visit outdoor green spaces.
Since March 8, people have been able to leave their home not just for exercise but also for recreation outdoors “such as a coffee or picnic with their household or support bubble, or with one person outside their household.”
And from March 29, gatherings of either six people or two households will be allowed, so families can meet another family or a group of friends for a walk, coffee or picnic.
Public outdoor places that are open include:
- parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
- public and botanical gardens – whether or not you pay to enter them
- the grounds of a heritage site
- outdoor attractions at sculpture parks
- public playgrounds
- parks or village greens (including those that have freely accessible sports equipment – such as football goals)
The March 29 rules ask people to minimise travel, with the general idea being to stay local.
The Government has defined local as your village, town or the part of a city where you live.
Can you go to the beach?
Yes, but you need to minimise travel and try to stay local. So it’s wise to go only if there is a beach within easy reach.
As you can see in the list of public outdoor places above, it does include beaches.
And the changing guidelines on March 29 mean that people will no longer be legally required to stay at home.
Many of the lockdown restrictions, however, will remain in place and people should “continue to minimise travel wherever possible.” Be sure to stick to a maximum of six people or two households if meeting others.
After April 12, the date when Step 2 is expected to allow people in England to have overnight stays away from home, travel into Wales will then be allowed, Mr Drakeford confirmed.
Can you go out for the day to meet friends?
Yes, you can. The rules allow for ‘recreation’ outdoors such as a coffee or picnic and for two households or six people to gather. So you can meet friends or relatives as long as you stick to those limits. For instance, a family could meet one pair of grandparents but not both sets at once.
Public spaces such as parks are the only places you can go for the Easter weekend until outdoor attractions reopen on April 12.
Can you have a barbecue?
Yes! From March 29, gatherings of either six people or two households will be allowed – and for the first time, this includes meeting in private gardens.
So you can have the neighbours round for a BBQ, or a set of friends, as long as the above numbers aren’t exceeded.
Remember to maintain social distancing from those outside your household or support bubble, so you’ll need to space out the chairs and not all gather around the BBQ for your food.
Good handwashing and surface cleaning are recommended too, and disposable cutlery, cups and plates might be a good idea.
Going into someone else’s house to use the loo or wash your hands may be okay if you practise social distancing and strict hygiene.
Boris Johnson previously said the only reason you should be going inside someone else’s house is when you are walking through to get to the garden.
This was later clarified by Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Chris Witty who said if someone must use the bathroom during a visit they can do so if they clean all surfaces they’ve touched.
He said: “If someone was to go into the loo because they had to do that, it’s absolutely critical that they wipe everything down, wash their hands all the way through.”
Can you have a garden party?
Yes, for the same reasons as a barbecue is permitted. Again, make sure to maintain social distancing and stick to limits on numbers.
Can you go on an Easter egg hunt?
Yes, you can. The National Trust has announced Easter trails at its outside spaces in England.
Can you play sports outdoors?
Yes. From March 29, outdoor sports facilities are allowed to reopen. This includes tennis courts, basketball courts, bowling greens, golf courses and open-air swimming pools.
Formally organised outdoor sports – for adults and under 18s – can also restart and will not be subject to the limits on gatherings but should comply with guidance issued by national governing bodies, the roadmap says. That means Sunday League football can kick off again.
Informal football kickabouts among friends on neighbourhood greens and in local parks will be allowed if they stick to the rule of six and social distancing is maintained. The same applies to outdoor group fitness workouts.
Can you visit relatives in care homes and hospices?
Yes. Since March 8, care home residents are allowed one visitor provided they are tested and wear PPE.
Every care home resident in England is now able to nominate a single named visitor who can come in for a regular visit. The visitor will have to take a rapid lateral flow test every time they visit, wear PPE and keep physical contact to a minimum.
At Step 2 of the roadmap – starting April 12 – the Government will look carefully at the success of the vaccine for people living in care homes, as well as levels of infection in the local community, especially any new variants. The Government will make a decision at that point on extending the number of visitors to two per resident, as in December, and set out a plan for the next phase of visits for people in residential care.
In addition to these new measures, care homes should continue to allow visits for other loved ones through arrangements such as substantial screens, visiting pods, visits behind windows or outdoor visiting. In the event of an outbreak in a care home, the home should immediately stop visiting (except in exceptional circumstances such as the end of life) to protect residents, staff and visitors who might be vulnerable to Covid-19.
Are tourist attractions such as castles, zoos and theme parks open yet?
No, not over the Easter holiday weekend. Outdoor tourist attractions won’t reopen until April 12 and indoor attractions not before May 17.
Will DIY stores be open over Easter?
Yes. They are regarded as essential retailers and have carried on trading through the lockdown.
So if you need a new mower, hedge trimmers, plants, water feature, barbecue, pressure washer or patio set, then you can go and get whatever you need to make the garden look good again.
And if the weather turns bad and the focus is shifted to indoor activities, a trip to the DIY store can get you sorted with paint, shelving, storage units or furniture as well.