New lockdown rules now allow couples and friends living in different homes to meet up in parks in England - but they must practice social distancing.

A Government official said that as long as a two-metre distance is maintained, people can sunbathe or chat with one other person from a different household.

This is good news for couples, friends and relatives who have stayed apart for almost two months.

The new rules, which come into play from Wednesday, were initially unclear as Boris Johnson indicated in his speech that sunbathing could still only be done with members of the same household.

He said: "You can sit in the sun in your local park, you can drive to other destinations, you can even play sports, but only with members of your own household."

People sit in Battersea Park, London

But a Government official confirmed on Sunday evening that as long as they stay two metres apart, people will be allowed to sunbathe or chat with one other person from another household.

Mr Johnson had previously warned people that if friends outside of a household asked to meet up, they should refuse.

In his address to the nation at the start of the lockdown on March 23, Mr Johnson said: "You should not be meeting friends. If your friends ask you to meet, you should say no.

"You should not be meeting family members who do not live in your home."

The day after the lockdown was introduced, the PM's spokesman insisted the "rules are clear" when asked about couples who did not live together.

He said: "When you are out of the house, you should only do so with members of your own household or if it is for work reasons."

The PM's spokesman said at the time that exemptions to the rules on being outside the home applied in two scenarios - key workers taking their children to school and children living with two separated parents.