“One way road to freedom”
A “roadmap” for cautiously easing Covid restrictions in England has been announced by the prime minister – which could see all aspects of society reopened by 21 June.
Boris Johnson revealed his four-step route out of lockdown yesterday (22 February), saying England was on a “one way road to freedom”.
He said he hoped to fully reopen the country and remove all limits on social contact within months – as long as the battle against the coronavirus continued to go to plan.
In a statement to parliament Mr Johnson said: “The threat remains substantial, with the numbers in hospital only now beginning to fall below the peak of the first wave in April.
“But we are able to take these steps because of the resolve of the British public and the extraordinary success of our NHS in vaccinating more than 17.5 million people across the UK…”
After the first stage in March, further lifting of the rules will happen if certain conditions are met – such as the vaccine rollout going to plan.
There will be a minimum of five weeks between each stage to assess the impact.
The aim is for all restrictions to be lifted by 21 June at the earliest.
Stage one is in two parts:
- All schools and colleges will reopen
- Some university students on practical courses will be able to return to face to face learning
- Face coverings are recommended in class for secondary school students and also for parents and staff in primary schools
- Wraparound childcare can also return for vulnerable pupils and where it is needed for parents or carers to go to work, support groups or to seek medical care
- The Stay at Home requirement will remain but two people from different households can meet outside for recreation, which can include “a coffee on a bench”
- Care home residents will be allowed one regular visitor, providing they wear PPE, and are tested
- Weddings attended by up to six people can take place in any circumstances
- People will be allowed to meet outside, either with one other household or within the “rule of six”, including in private gardens
- The Stay at Home rule will end – but people should stay local as much as possible
- Outdoor sport facilities will reopen, including golf courses and tennis and basketball courts
- Formally organised outdoor sports can also restart
- Parents and children groups can return but are capped at 15 and must be outdoors. Indoor groups can take place for vulnerable children and where parents need the groups to go to work
No earlier than 12 April:
- All non-essential retail is allowed to reopen
- Hairdressers, beauty salons and other “close contact services” can reopen
- Restaurants and pub gardens will be allowed to serve customers sitting outdoors, including alcohol
- Libraries and community centres can reopen
- Zoos, theme parks and drive-in cinemas can reopen
- Gyms and swimming pools can reopen for use by individuals and households
- UK domestic holidays away from home are permitted, with self-contained accommodation able to reopen for use by members of the same household
- Children will be allowed to attend indoor play activities, with up to 15 parents or guardians allowed to join them
- Weddings attended by up to 15 people can take place
- Funerals can continue with up to 30 people
No earlier than 17 May:
- Outdoors, people will be able to meet in groups of up to 30.
- Six people or two households can meet indoors
- Pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues will be able to seat customers indoors
- Adult indoor group sports and exercise classes can start up again
- Indoor entertainment such as museums, theatres, cinemas and children’s play areas can open
- Remaining outdoor entertainment, such as outdoor theatres and cinemas can open
- Performances and large events will be subject to limits. For indoor events they can be at half capacity or 1,000 people, and outdoors they can be at half capacity or 4,000 people – whichever is lower.
- For large venues (at least 40,000 capacity) up to 10,000 will be allowed to attend
- Hotels, hostels and B&Bs can reopen to household groups
- International leisure travel will resume no earlier than 17 May
- Up to 30 people can meet to celebrate weddings, wakes or other life events, like christenings
No earlier than 21 June:
- It is hoped all legal limits on social contact will be removed
- Nightclubs will be allowed to reopen and restrictions lifted on large events and performances.
- This will guide decisions on whether all limits can be removed on weddings, funerals and other life events.
The vaccination programme will be continuing with a target to offer a first dose to every adult by the end of July.
The government hopes that the increased protection offered by vaccines will gradually replace the restrictions.
For more information visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-spring-2021/covid-19-response-spring-2021-summary
For a detailed breakdown of the four-step roadmap, visit: ‘COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021’ on the Government website.
Support for residents throughout the transition is available through the We Are Bristol free helpline on 0800 694 0184, open Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm and Saturday to Sunday, 10am to 2pm.
A 24/7 helpline – 0800 012 6549 – is also available for people in Bristol to get immediate emotional and practical mental health support.