Groups of up to six people will be able to meet outside in England from Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said.
People can meet in gardens and private outdoor spaces, provided they keep two metres apart, Mr Johnson announced.
“These changes mean friends and family will start to meet loved ones,” in what would be a “long awaited and joyful moment”, he added.
The PM said it was possible because the government’s five tests, including a fall in deaths, were being met.
Speaking at Thursday’s Downing Street press conference, Mr Johnson told people they should “try to avoid seeing people from too many households in quick succession” to help “avoid the risk of transmission from lots of different families”.
Barbecues will be allowed, the prime minister confirmed, providing people are “scrupulous” about washing their hands, maintaining good hygiene and social distancing.
He said that, despite the slight relaxation of rules on meeting people outside, those deemed most vulnerable to Covid-19 should continue to shield themselves for now.
It came as a further 377 people have died with coronavirus across all settings in the UK, according to daily figures released on Thursday.
The total number of deaths in and outside of hospitals is now 37,837, the Department of Health said.