Yesterday, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, outlined the government’s road map to release England from lockdown. Rules in England will be lifted in five-week stages and with four conditions that must be met at each stage. These are that the vaccination programme continues successfully, hospital admissions and deaths continue to fall, pressure on the NHS is manageable and there is no major impact by virus variants.
Stage one – On the 8 March, schools and colleges will reopen and two people allowed to meet outdoors. Care home residents will be allowed one regular named visitor and the stay-at-home order remains in place.
From 29 March, outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households will be allowed. Outdoor sports, including golf and tennis can resume. The stay-at-home order remains in place and people will be encouraged to stay local wherever they can. The work from home policy wherever possible will apply and there will still be no overseas travel.
Stage two – from 12 April at the earliest, non-essential retail, personal care, gyms, swimming pools and outdoor areas in hospitality venues (such as beer gardens) are set to reopen with households or the rule of 6. Libraries, museums, zoos and theme parks, self-contained accommodation and campsites can also reopen. Funerals will continue to have a maximum of 30 people and weddings restricted to 15. These will be subject to the four conditions outlined above.
Stage three – from 17 May at the earliest for outdoors, most social contact rules will be lifted up to a limit of 30 people. Mixing indoors will be allowed for two households with the 6-person rule for indoor hospitality and elsewhere continues. Cinemas, soft play centres, rest of accommodation sector, hotels and indoor exercise classes return. Performances and sporting events can resume – larger performances with venues 1,000 plus or half full will be allowed indoors and outdoors 4,000 capacity or half full (whichever lowest). International travel will be subject to review.
In the largest outdoor seated venues such as football stadiums, up to 10,000 people will be allowed to attend (or 1/4 full whichever is lowest). Up to 30 people can attend weddings, receptions and funerals. These will be subject to the four conditions outlined above.
Stage four – the legal limits on people’s social contact are set to be removed by 21 June with the remaining sectors of the economy reopened.
The Prime Minister stated that the dates in his four-stage plan were not set in stone and were the earliest possible point at which the restrictions could be lifted.
This long-awaited plan foresees a significant return to normality in the space of four months and we can hope that we all have a much better summer this year.