The 2m rule on social distancing will be relaxed to "1m plus" from July 4, with people advised to take other precautions such as wearing face coverings, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

He also said households of any size will be able to meet in any setting, indoors and out.

It doesn't have to be the same two households at each meeting. 

He added: "We are not recommending meetings of multiple households indoors."

In a statement to the Commons, the PM said the commonsense and perseverance of Britons has "more than justified our faith" in them. 

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He told the Commons: "Today, we can say our long national hibernation is beginning to come to an end."

He adds: "A new, cautious, optimism is palpable."

In his ten-minute statement, the PM added: "Since I set out our plan on May 11, we have been clear that our cautious relaxation of the guidance is entirely conditional on our continued defeat of the virus.

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"In the first half of May, nearly 69,000 people tested positive for Covid-19 across the UK. By the first half of June that total had fallen by nearly 70 per cent to just under 22,000."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs: "The number of new infections is now declining by between 2 per cent and 4 per cent every day.

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"Four weeks ago an average of one in 400 people in the community in England had Covid-19, in the first half of June this figure was one in 1,700.

"We created a human shield around the NHS and in turn our doctors and nurses have protected us, and together we have saved our hospitals from being overwhelmed."

Mr Johnson said guidance for business will be published later on Tuesday.

He added: "I know [the two-metre rule] effectively makes life impossible for large parts of our economy even without other restrictions, for example it prevents all but a fraction of our hospitality industry from operating."

He added: "We're today publishing guidance on how business can reduce the risk by taking certain steps to protect workers and customers.

"And these include, for instance, avoiding face-to-face seating by changing office layouts, reducing the number of people in enclosed spaces, improving ventilation, using protective screens and face coverings, closing non-essential social spaces, providing hand santiser, changing shift patterns so that staff work in set teams."

The Prime Minister said every step in easing the lockdown is "scrupulously weighed", adding: "We cannot lift all the restrictions at once so we have to make difficult judgments.

"And every step is scrupulously weighed against the evidence."

He added: "Our principle is to trust the British public to use their common sense in the full knowledge of the risks, remembering that the more we open up, the more vigilant we will need to be."

Happily for many, MANY Brits, the PM also confirmed hairdressers will be allowed to re-open.

Mr Johnson said: "Almost as eagerly awaited as a pint will be a haircut, particularly by me, and so we will reopen hairdressers with appropriate precautions, including the use of visors.

"We also intend to allow some other close contact services such as nail bars to reopen as soon as we can when we are confident that they can operate in a Covid-secure way.

"From July 4, provided that no more than two households stay together, people will be free to stay overnight in self-contained accommodation including hotels and bed and breakfasts, as well as camp sites, as long as shared facilities are kept clean."

More to follow