Brits can finally hug loved ones today but are warned it’s ‘high risk’ and 'keep it outside' amid Indian variant fears

BRITS can finally get their arms around loved ones today – but have been warned it's "high risk" amid growing Indian variant cases.

After more than a year of not being allowed to hug eager Brits are legally able to embrace family and friends, with Matt Hancock urging "keep it outside".

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In a major milestone on the road to normality, hugs are allowed again and pubs and restaurants can reopen indoors.

But after UK Covid Indian variant infections doubled in a week, ministers and expertshave warned to be cautious when hugging.

Professor Peter Openshaw said: "This is a high-risk procedure, I would say in medical terms and I would certainly not be embracing people closely.

"I think we're all in agreement that this is a moment when we need to be very cautious if we're going to preserve our freedoms going forward into the summer."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said yesterday: "We should all be careful, we all know the risks, outside is safer than inside – so even though you can, from tomorrow, meet up inside, it's still better to meet up outside.

"I think personal responsibility is an important mantra here because people have been so responsible through the crisis and they've really listened and followed the guidance and instructions that the Prime Minister set out, and that's the approach we should take together."

He said he would hug his parents outside, and try and keep outdoors as much as possible.

The Health Secretary added he would be avoiding indoor pub tables "for the moment", and urged Brits to make sure they keep windows open if going inside.


Step Three in Boris Johnson’s roadmap is the biggest unlocking so far – with indoor dining, hugs, holidays and casual sex back on the cards. 

And those happy to brave the rain can meet in groups of up to thirty in a pub garden. 

Despite larger numbers allowed to meet outside, social distancing between different groups will be encouraged.

It is the first time since November that all Brits can once again mix inside.

Good Morning Britain's Dr Hilary demonstrated how to hug safely this morning.

He showed viewers that wearing a mask and turning heads away from each other for a quick embrace is the best way to protect each hugger.

Although it's unclear quite how the Indian variant will respond to vaccines, early research coming out of Oxford University found the vaccines are “highly effective”

It comes after experts feared it spreads 60 per cent quicker than the Kent variant that rolled the UK back into lockdown in January.

Jabs will be rolled out to everyone aged 35 and over this week in an all-out effort to stop a new wave derailing the roadmap out of lockdown.

Striking a sombre tone, the PM said he will push ahead with today's easing of restrictions – but all Brits “must play their part” and be responsible.

He said: “Together we have reached another milestone in our roadmap out of lockdown, but we must take this next step with a heavy dose of caution.

“We are keeping the spread of the variant first identified in India under close observation and taking swift action where infection rates are rising.”

He vowed to “accelerate” Britain’s “extraordinary vaccination programme” so more are protected against the bug.

Britain faces a precarious moment as the Indian variant can spread like “wildfire” across unvaccinated groups, he said.

We should all be careful, we all know the risks, outside is safer than inside – so even though you can, from tomorrow, meet up inside, it's still better to meet up outside.

A deluge of extra tests and vaccines are being surged to hotspots to try to stamp out the clusters of infections.

Covid “hit squads” are going door to door urging everyone to get the jab.

Meanwhile, Professor Robert Dingwall, who sits on a subgroup of Sage, told anxious Brits to “keep calm and carry on”.

He told The Sun: "We now have emerging evidence that the vaccines are as protective against the Indian variant as they are against others that have appeared.

"In fact, somewhere between 70 and 80 per cent of people now have a significant level of immunity because of the vaccines or previous infection.

"This is a completely different situation to last Spring, or even to the beginning of January.

"We have to stop being scared by every variant that comes along."


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