The mandatory housing measures introduced across the UK to help stop the spread of avian influenza (bird flu) will be lifted on Monday, May 2, the four chief veterinary officers have said.

This means that poultry and other captive birds will no longer need to be housed, unless they are in a Protection Zone. Protection Zones are put in place typically 3km around a confirmed infected premises.

However, the biosecurity requirements that were brought in as part of the Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) will remain in force as infection may still be circulating in the environment. A full list of these requirements on available of the government's website.

In a joint statement, the four chief veterinary officers said: “Whilst the lifting of the mandatory housing measures will be welcome news to bird keepers, scrupulous biosecurity remains the most critical form of defence to help keep your birds safe.

“It is thanks to the hard work of all bird keepers and vets, who have played their part in keeping flocks safe this winter, that we are in a position to take this action.

"However, the recent cases of avian influenza show that it’s vital that bird keepers remain vigilant for signs of disease and maintain stringent standards of biosecurity.”

Those who intend to allow their birds outside are advised to use the upcoming days to prepare their outside areas for the release of their birds. This will include cleansing and disinfection of hard surfaces, fencing off ponds or standing water and reintroduction of wild bird deterrents.