- New guidelines have been provided for those hoping to have a BBQ gathering
- From June 1, groups of up to six people can enjoy socially distanced meetings
- A one-way system around gardens has been advised to minimise contact
- A leading expert has said people can 'make it fun', almost 'like a game'
- Guests are recommended to bring their own condiments and cutlery
Revellers planning to host a barbecue next week should consider one-way systems of travel around the grill and bringing their own condiments, an expert has said.
From June 1, groups of up to six people in England will be able to enjoy socially distanced meetings in parks and gardens, including hosting barbecues, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Thursday.
Behavioural neuroscientist at the University of Reading's School of Psychology, Professor Patricia Riddell, said the Government guidelines around this are unclear, and recommended some measures those worried about spreading the virus could take to stay safe.
Prof Riddell said people should not feel obliged to meet larger groups just because it is legally allowed, but for those who do, their most important consideration is their guest list.
'The first thing I would be doing is thinking who do I want to include in my group - who has been taking the same level of risk that I have and won't put me and my family at risk,' she said.
'As harsh as it sounds, some people are on the front line and are exposed to the risk, and you need to be aware of the risk they might bring.'
Prof Riddell recommended asking guests to bring their own cutlery, plates and condiments to reduce the risk of virus transmission through touching the same surfaces, and having only one person using the tongs.
She also endorsed serving food on plates from a distance rather than everyone approaching the grill, setting out seats in advance for people to sit two metres apart, and sitting alongside each other rather than face to face.
'You could have routes of travel so people go round one way to the barbecue,' she said.
'I think you could make it quite good fun, almost like an obstacle course or game.
'Instead of forcing rigid and hard rules, make it imaginative, creative and fun.
'There's going to be greater pressure on us to do more, especially from our kids, and it's about how do you do it in a way that's fun but also takes into consideration that we are still at risk.'
The changes in lowdown protocol is set to cause confusion among the public, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined that people should not meet in gatherings until Monday, despite scorching weather set for the coming weekend.
There is a danger therefore that the message of relaxing rulings will circulate, causing people to meet up before officially advised.
Number 10 is adamant that people must wait for the new freedoms to kick in despite the fact that Scotland's more limited changes come into force today.
After announcing the new restrictions at a Downing Street press conference on Thursday, Mr Johnson said: 'What you certainly can imagine is there could be meetings of families in a garden, you could even have a barbecue provided you did it in a socially distanced way, provided everyone washes their hands, provided everybody exercises common sense.'
Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, also told anyone planning such gatherings it was 'absolutely critical' to maintain strong hygiene standards.
Despite the PM saying the government's five tests have been met and it is safe to start relaxing restrictions, No10 confirmed on Friday that the coronavirus alert level remains at four.
Mr Johnson suggested to MPs on Wednesday that the alert was 'coming down' from four to three and he was 'hoping' a decision would be taken on Thursday.
Ministers have insisted throughout that the lockdown would only be eased when the five tests were met.
However, the government has also set up the Covid alert system which describes what people can expect to happen at each level. Level four requires 'current social distancing measures and restrictions'.
No10 insisted the government's steps for England were taken on the basis of the five tests, and the Joint Biosecurity Centre is in charge of the alert level.
Amid warnings from scientists that the pandemic is far from over, Labour said ministers urgently need to explain how the lifting of restrictions fits with the alert system.
Mr Johnson was also facing a backlash over his statement that barbecues will be acceptable under the new regime, with experts saying that in fact they are 'really dangerous'.
Chief Scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said last night that the situation remains 'fragile', with 8,000 new infections every day. Scotland and Wales have announced more limited loosenings.
Meanwhile, there is more evidence of coronaphobia among the public, with an Office for National Statistics survey finding barely half would feel safe meeting up with friends or family.