Speaking at a Downing Street press briefing, Boris Johnson confirmed the country had met the conditions needed to progress to the next step of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown.
Pubs and bars will be able to reopen for indoor trade from Monday 17 May, under step three of the roadmap.
People will be able to meet outside in groups of up to 30 people while they can meet indoors in groups of up to six or as two households.
Pubs must still stick to rules such as table service and requirements to collect guest data for NHS Test & Trace.
The announcement comes as the UK’s coronavirus alert level was lowered from four to three today (Monday 10 May).
Updated guidance on social contact will be issued shortly which will suggest close friends and family can hug but people should still try to social distance with others.
Road to normality
The easing of restrictions at this stage “amounts to a very considerable step on the road back to normality,” the Prime Minister said.
The country would be “on track” to move to step four on 21 June, “subject to the impact of step three on the data,” Johnson added.
The Government will make an announcement about “what the world will look like and what role there could be, if any, for certification and social distancing,” this month, the PM said.
On the future of the 'one-metre plus' social distancing rule, Johnson said businesses would have to wait and see but he was hopeful restrictions would be eased this summer.
The country is slowly getting to a place where it could “learn to live responsibly with Covid,” but people must not “throw caution to the wind,” Johnson warned.
He pointed to devastating numbers of coronavirus cases in other countries and concerns over variants of the virus, warning of the “lethal potential” of Covid-19.
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said welcomed the next step of lifting lockdown rules, which have been in place since early January.
The announcement meant a “huge sense of relief” among businesses, particularly the six in 10 hospitality venues unable to open for outdoor trade, Nicholls said.
She added: “However, with significant restrictions still in place, this is a psychological opening rather than an economic one, with the profitability of the sector still a huge issue.
"This is why sticking to the roadmap and the removal of all restrictions by 21 June is absolutely crucial, enabling venues to finally operate in viable conditions, after fourteen months of severely disrupted trading.
“Hospitality, as it emerges from restrictions, is still in a fragile state and continued Government support will be critical to ensuring the sector is rejuvenated and plays a full role in the wider economic recovery.”
Back of the queue
The trade body boss has written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak urging for further support on “structural” problems such as rent debt.
Night Time Industries Association chief executive Micheal Kill said it was “bizarre and illogical” to endorse hugging in “household environments” while people cannot dance in hospitality venues.
He said data on coronavirus infections pointed to household settings being associated with more risk of infection than venues.
“Nightclubs & late night economy businesses are still in a critical position, with no changes to restrictions or guidance until post 21 June,” Kill added.
The CEO questioned why the Government had decided “hugs not clubs”.
“This looks and feels like the Government pushing nightclubs to the back of the queue once again”.