Boris Johnson has announced a ‘roadmap out of lockdown’, which includes proposed dates for the reopening of society in England.
This comes after the current success of the vaccination programme, with 19.6 million people receiving their first dose.
So, what can we expect from the lifting of lockdown?
- Schools and colleges reopen for all students. Face masks will be worn from secondary level.
- Meeting with one other person outside for a picnic or a coffee is permitted.
- University students on practical courses can return for face-to-face sessions.
- Care home residents can have one regular visitor.
- Rule of six in place for outdoor gatherings, including gardens. Six people from different households, or two households of any number can meet.
- Outdoor sport can resume.
- ‘Stay at Home’ message becomes ‘Stay Local’.
- Pubs and restaurants reopen outdoors only. The ‘substantial meal’ rule will no longer apply and there will be no curfew.
- Non-essential shops, hairdressers, salons, libraries and gyms to reopen.
- Outdoor attractions such as zoos and theme parks can reopen.
- Holidays with your own household in self-contained accommodation is permitted.
- Funerals continue with up to 30 people, and weddings can have up to 15 guests.
- 30 people can meet outdoors.
- Six people, or two households can meet indoors.
- Indoor hospitality can reopen, including pubs, restaurants, cinemas, museums and hotels.
- Larger events indoors, such as sport or performances can reopen at a limited capacity.
- Up to 30 people can attend weddings.
- All legal limits on social contact removed.
- Nightclubs to reopen.
- Limits on large events could be lifted, including concerts, festivals, theatres and sport.
- Limits removed on weddings.
The lifting of these restrictions will be based on four tests:
- The vaccination programme continues successfully.
- There is evidence of reduced hospitalisations and deaths for those vaccinated.
- There is no risk that the NHS will come under unsustainable pressure from infection rates.
- Any new variants do not cause substantial risk.
A five week window has been left between each stage in order to review infection rates after the easing of restrictions.
The Health Secretary Matt Hancock has stressed the need for everyone to “pull together” and follow the existing rules so that the gradual lifting of lockdown can take place safely.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said in a statement to the House of Commons, we “can’t afford” to make the same mistakes again, but that he supports the Prime Minister’s caution in following the evidence.
However, some Tory back-benchers have criticised Boris Johnson’s cautious approach to lifting restrictions.
Conservative MP Mark Harper, chairman of the Covid Recovery Group, questioned the Prime Minister on the dates chosen in his roadmap. He suggested, once everyone over fifty is vaccinated by the end of April, there would be no need for restrictions to continue.
Boris Johnson responded by saying they needed to “wait and see exactly what the effects of the vaccine are”, and that they are aiming to provide a one-way route out of lockdown.
The current predictions see all adults in England receiving the first dose of the vaccine by 31 July.
Image: Financial Times