These are the rules around hugging other people - including support bubbles and extended households

Tuesday, 14th July 2020, 3:38 pm
Updated Tuesday, 14th July 2020, 3:38 pm
Is hugging now permitted? Here’s what you need to know, depending on where you live (Photo: Shutterstock)
Is hugging now permitted? Here’s what you need to know, depending on where you live (Photo: Shutterstock)

Lockdown measures continue to be relaxed throughout the UK, with the rules regarding how many people can meet at one time slowly easing.

But is hugging now permitted? Here’s what you need to know, depending on where you live.

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Can I now hug other people?

How many people can meet up both indoors and outdoors differs between the devolved governments, with the rules regarding who you can and cannot hug varying.

What are the rules for hugging in England?

Two households of any size are now able to meet either indoors or outdoors at any one time in England, but this is on the condition that they continue to observe rules on social distancing. This means that family members or friends should not hug or kiss each other.

People can stay overnight at other addresses, and two households are also able to go on holiday together in shared accommodation or neighbouring tents, but, again, this is provided that social distancing rules are followed.

The rules differ for those in a ‘support bubble’, which allows single person households to meet and stay overnight with another household. This enables single grandparents or couples living in separate households to meet and stay indoors.

Those in a ‘support bubble’ do not have to keep two metres apart, which means they are able to hug each other, and are allowed to spend time in each other’s homes and stay the night.

Can people hug each other in Scotland?

In Scotland, people can meet in groups of up to 15 people outdoors, from up to five different households, including your own household.

However, the Scottish government is still “advising people to stick to two metre distancing from people in households other than your own”.

A maximum of eight people, from up to three different households can now also meet indoors.

The Scottish government explains, “As long as physical distancing between different households is maintained, this can include overnight stays.”

You shouldn’t hug people who are not from your household, as “individuals from different households are advised to keep two metres apart”, according to official guidance.

You should not meet with people from any more than four different households in total in any single day, whether indoors or outdoors.

However, Scotland has implemented ‘extended household groups’, which allow people who live on their own or only with children under 18 to meet people from one other household. This group of people can visit each other's homes and go inside, without having to stay two metres apart - which means hugging is permitted. They can also stay overnight.

What are the rules in Northern Ireland?

In Northern Ireland, up to 30 people can meet outdoors, with indoor meetings remaining at a maximum of six.

However, social distancing should be maintained - keeping a two metre distance wherever possible, and one metre when it is not possible.

The executive said that people were "strongly advised" to wear face coverings during indoor gatherings.

Overnight visits are currently not permitted for most. However, those in a support bubble can stay overnight and don’t have to keep two metres apart, which means hugging is allowed.

Can people in Wales hug?

In Wales, people should not gather indoors with anyone who is not a member of their household or extended household.

People must not gather in public places, other than with members of one other household or extended household, except for organised outdoor activities.

Social distancing should also be followed, apart from those in an ‘extended household’.

An extended household allows two households to join together. The Welsh government explains, “In effect the people in the two households become part of a single household and enjoy the same legal freedoms a household has – they will be able to meet indoors and have physical contact. They can also stay in each other’s homes.”