RULES are expected to be relaxed to allow you to meet up to five other friends outdoors after March 29.

But it remains unlikely that you’ll be able to hug your loved ones – unless they live in the same household or are part of your “bubble”.

Over the weekend, the government announced that care home residents will be able to hold one, designated visitor’s hand from March 8. Although hand-holding is allowed, ministers say hugging and kissing will not be. Visitors will have to take a covid test and wear personal protective equipment.

This afternoon, Boris Johnson is expected to say that socialising in parks and public spaces with one other person will be permitted from March 8, when the rules are relaxed, to allow people to sit down for a drink or picnic. People must follow social distancing rules.

A further easing of restrictions will take place on March 29 when the school Easter holidays begin - with larger groups allowed to gather in parks and gardens.

The moves form the first step in a four-part plan, which will not be completed until the summer - with around five weeks between stages expected to assess the impact on the spread of the virus and prepare businesses for the next move.

READ MORE: Live updates as Boris Johnson unveils lockdown easing plan

By the Easter holidays the "rule of six" will return, along with new measures allowing two households totalling more than six people to meet - giving greater flexibility for families and friends.

Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts are also set to reopen, and organised adult and children's sport, including grassroots football, can return from March 29.

Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said people would also be able to travel to see friends and family from another household from March 29, "as long as it's outdoors, and it is two families, or the rule of six".

Details of the next three stages will be set out in the road map, but Mr Zahawi indicated that, as with previous lockdowns, indoor activities will be among the last to resume.

He said: "At the moment, the focus is very much on the steady as she goes.

"Outdoor versus indoor, priority being children in schools, second priority is obviously allowing two people on March 8 to meet outside for a coffee to address some of the issues around loneliness, and of course mental health as well.

"And then the 29th is two families, or rule of six, coming together, and outdoor sporting activities as well."