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Three months; no playdates. Such has been the law in England in 2021. But, from Monday 29 March, things start to get better. In a significant move for families, the law will change to allow certain types of socialising. Kids can see their friends again outside a school setting.
What Can We Do That We Couldn’t Do Before?
Your household can meet with others outdoors. This can be in a garden, or park, or other outdoor space. The meeting is limited to either six people from multiple households, or any number from two households. And everyone should remain socially distanced as much as possible.
Bit Confusing… Please Break That Down A Little More
So, you can meet in groups of six from different households. This could mean, for example, that you can arrange a playdate with children from three different houses (one parent and one child from each). So long as your group is no bigger than six (including kids), then it doesn’t matter where they come from.
It is possible to meet in groups larger than six, but in that case the people meeting should come from no more than two households.
Remember, all of this applies to outdoor meetups. You’re not allowed to meet other households indoors yet, unless they’re part of your bubble. It’s not expected that this will be possible until at least 17 May.
What Else Is New?
Outdoor sports facilities, like tennis and basketball courts and outdoor pools, will be allowed to reopen. People can also take part in formally organised outdoor sports without restrictions on group size.
Childcare and supervised activities will also now be allowed outdoors for all children, while formally organised parent and child groups will be able to take place outdoors for up to 15 attendees. Children under 5 will not be not counted in this number.
The ‘Stay at Home’ order will also be formally retracted. The details of what this means are a little vague. We’re still encouraged to stay local, work from home if possible, and keep travel to a minimum - so no great radical change.
And What Happens Next?
After this milestone, the next key date is expected to be 12 April. If the virus remains under control, then we should see non-essential shops reopen, cafes and restaurants offering outdoor catering, the return of hairdressers and other personal services, and the reopening of zoos, theme parks and other outdoor attractions. Indoor sports facilities such as pools and gyms will also reopen, as will libraries. Finally, UK holiday homes will also be able to operate again.
For more details on further proposed lockdown easing, see our earlier article.
What To Do On Your Playdate
For many families, simply meeting up with friends again is all the entertainment they’ll need in the first wave of playdates. If you are looking for something more adventurous, though, try our list of games to play in the park, these low- and no-contact alternatives, and these further ideas perfect for spring.
Although originally from the Midlands, and trained as a biochemist, Matt has somehow found himself writing about London for a living. He's a former editor and long-time contributor to Londonist.com and has written several books about the capital. He's also the father of two preschoolers.