United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to ease public health restrictions that barred hugging as the country begins the next phase of reopening.
The country lowered the threat level three from four on Monday in regards to the coronavirus, and Johnson announced hugging can begin in the U.K. again on May 17, according to The Associated Press.
Johnson is also expected on Monday to announce that people from different households can mix in pubs and restaurants as the number of vaccinated Britons goes up and coronavirus cases across the country fall.
Gatherings indoors are to be capped at six people or two different households if that is higher, while limits on outdoor gatherings will be raised to 30 people, the AP noted.
“I think it’s what most people have missed, that intimate contact with family and friends, and entertaining, having people in your own house, meeting outdoors,” Health Minister Nadine Dorries told the outlet.
Gurch Randhawa, a professor of diversity in public health at the University of Bedfordshire, told AP relaxing the restrictions, however could be a mistake.
“It is no doubt tempting to relax social distancing, offer the glimmer of a much needed hug, and lift restrictions on international travel, but this could be a big mistake at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Randhawa said. “As a minimum, the government should be advising only those have received both vaccination doses to be hugging each other, and even, a short hug, with faces directed away from each other to minimize risk of COVID-19 transmission."