Bristol welcomes Step 3: OneStep (c) Bristol Design

17 May 2021

Public Health

Bristol welcomes Step 3

Bristol has taken another step to easing COVID-19 restrictions.

As of today (Monday 17 May), people can meet outdoors in a group of up to 30 people, and indoors with six people (or two households).

People are also now allowed to stay overnight at someone’s house who is not in their household or support bubble.

The most significant change comes as the government has announced that people should make a personal choice on whether to socially distance from their friends or family when meeting up.

Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees said: “Taking this third step of the government’s roadmap is a really important milestone for Bristol. I want to thank everyone who has worked so hard and sacrificed so much to help us get to where we are.

“Our restaurants and pubs are once again able to welcome visitors indoors, limits on the number of mourners at funerals have been removed and our museums, theatres and cinemas can once again open their doors. I know this will bring huge relief to a lot of people.

“It remains extremely important that, throughout this phased unlocking, we are patient and kind to one another. The changes to the rules around social distancing will mean that some people will want to give their friends and family a hug and others will want to continue keeping their space from others.

“We must be mindful that for some people the risks of close contact may be greater than others. In some settings and circumstances, such as care homes or indoors in a restaurant, there will be specific COVID secure guidance that you need to follow, even when you are with friends and family. Let’s all be respectful of one another’s wishes and work together to find the right balance as we look forward to recovery.”

Director for Communities and Public Health Christina Gray said: “This next step is really positive for helping to reopen society and get back to our “new normal”.

“Regular lateral flow (rapid) testing is available to everyone in Bristol, and now we’re opening up our city even more, this is helpful in identifying cases of COVID-19 when people don’t have symptoms and helping people to isolate effectively. Even though our rates are low, the virus is still circulating and people could be spreading it without knowing.

"Rapid testing is free, quick and there’s lots of routes to access it – head to our website to find out which route would suit you best. Alongside testing, vaccinations are an absolutely vital tool in helping us get back to the things we love. I encourage everyone to please take up the offer of a COVID-19 vaccine when you are invited to do so.

“We have come leaps and bounds since this time last year, but there is still a long way to go. The situation internationally, across Europe and in India, is a stark reminder of the dangers of this virus. By getting back to basics and supporting one another, we can get back to the things and people we love sooner.

“Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or use hand sanitiser if you’re out and about. Unless you are exempt, cover your face when you’re in the shops, on public transport or where appropriate. If you feel more comfortable doing so, keep your distance from people not in your household or support bubble. If you are meeting with family and friends indoors, make sure there is plenty of opportunity for fresh air to get in by opening a door or window.”

For further advice and guidance on COVID-19, visit the local authority website.

Support is on offer through the We Are Bristol helpline for anyone who needs emergency assistance getting food, medicines or guidance about financial support to self-isolate. Call 0800 694 0184 for free if you need help.

From 17 May:

  • People can meet with up to 30 people outdoors
  • People can meet indoors as a group of six or as two households
  • You should exercise caution and consider the risks of close contact when meeting with family and friends
  • Continue to work from home if you can


  • A traffic light system is being implemented for international travel, and you must follow the rules when returning to England depending on whether you return from a red, amber or green list country
  • All holiday accommodation will be open (including hotels and B&Bs). This can be used by groups of up to six or two households
  • When travelling within the UK, you should aim to do so safely and plan your journey in advance


  • Indoor entertainment and attractions such as cinemas, theatres, concert halls, bowling alleys, casinos, amusement arcades, museums and children’s indoor play areas can open with COVID-secure measures in place
  • Indoor and outdoor events, including live performances, sporting events and business events can begin again. Attendance at these events will be capped according to venue type, and attendees should follow the COVID-secure measures set out by those venues
  • Indoor hospitality venues such as restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes can reopen
  • Organised indoor sport will be able to take place for all (this includes gym classes)

Funerals, weddings, wakes

  • Up to 30 people can attend weddings, wakes and significant life and commemorative events
  • Legal limit on numbers of mourners at funerals have been removed, limits on capacity will depend on the venue or place of worship

Care homes

  • Care home residents can receive up to five named visitors (two at any one time), provided visitors test negative for COVID-19


  • All higher education students can return to in-person teaching