As restrictions lift, you may be thinking about welcoming your family and friends back into your home. But while the risk of spreading Covid-19 is now less than it was last summer, it’s still important to take precautions, especially as new variants of the virus emerge. So, as you start meeting up again, what can you do to protect yourself and your loved ones?

Check who is vulnerable

While many vulnerable people have now received their vaccinations, it’s important to still take care. If you or someone you know is in the “vulnerable” category, you may want to take extra steps to ensure safety, especially if they are still waiting for both vaccinations.

Those aged over 80 are among the most at risk. In addition, some illnesses or treatments for medical conditions can mean some people have a higher risk, particularly if the immune system is affected.

In some cases, people may prefer to continue to self-isolate or meet outdoors only. Getting in touch with those you want to catch up with can make sure everyone feels comfortable with the plans made.

Keep the number restrictions in mind

There are still rules in place about how many people can meet up. At the moment, up to 30 people can gather outdoors, but only six people, or two households, can meet indoors. Children are included in these limits in England.

These rules may change and could depend on where you’re living in the UK. You should check the advice for your area before making plans and be prepared to make adjustments if necessary.

Maintain social distancing where possible

While some social distancing restrictions have eased, it’s best to continue following them where possible.

Advice across the UK is to maintain a 2-metre distance between you and anyone you don’t live with or is not part of your bubble if you can. In places where this isn’t possible, you can take extra precautions, like wearing a face mask. Simple steps, such as turning your face away when hugging someone, can also help reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

You must still wear a face-covering in many public places, including public transport and shops. If you’re not exempt, you could be committing an offence by not covering your mouth and nose.

Let the fresh air in

While we can now meet indoors, fresh air can still help minimise the spread of Covid-19.

Where possible, planning events and meetups outdoors can help protect you. On sunny days, it’s a great excuse to spend more time in your garden, exploring natural attractions, or attending outdoor events.

If you plan to meet indoors, opening windows and external doors can help blow particles away to reduce the risk of infection. Think about where in your home makes the most sense to gather and the steps you can take to improve circulation. If you have French doors, for example, creating a seating area around these can help.

Keep your hand sanitiser topped up

Washing your hands when you get home and having sanitiser has become a habit most of us have picked up. Don’t let that habit fall to the wayside now. Having hand sanitiser means you can minimise the chance that family and friends will bring the virus, as well as other illnesses, into your home. It’s a simple step that can help make sure you stay healthy.

If you’re meeting loved ones out, whether you’re planning a trip to the pub or a walk in the local park, a small bottle of sanitiser can come in handy too.

Keep Covid-19 symptoms in mind

If you or someone you’ve been in contact with have any Covid-19 symptoms, it’s best to reschedule plans and self-isolate for 10 days. It can be frustrating after months of restrictions and cancelled plans, but it can ensure you play a role in reducing the spread of the virus.

The main Covid-19 symptoms to look out for are:

  • A high temperature
  • A new, continuous cough
  • A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.

Remember, if you have symptoms, you can book a test to confirm if you have Covid-19. You can go to a centre to get this done or there are home testing kits available. If you have symptoms or have been in contact with someone that has tested positive, you should book a test as soon as possible. The most common test is a PCR test, which involves taking a swab of the inside of your nose and throat.

It’s been a challenging year for many people, but we hope you’re able to enjoy meeting up with family and friends in the coming weeks and months in a safe way.