Easing of Lockdown Restrictions
On 22 February, the Prime Minister outlined a four-step roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions in England. There will be at least five weeks between each of the four stages, and the Government will assess the impact of any previous easing of restrictions before moving to the next step.
The four conditions that must be met at each phase of lockdown easing are:
- The vaccination programme must continue to go to plan.
- Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
- Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospital admissions.
- New variants of COVID-19 do not fundamentally change the risk of lifting restrictions.
Proposed timeline for easing restrictions
The first step of easing restrictions will be split into two parts:
- From 8 March – Primary and secondary schools across England will reopen. People will be able to meet another individual from outside their household or bubble in a public space.
- From 29 March – Outdoor gatherings of either two households or up to six people will be allowed. Outdoor sports facilities will reopen and organised adult and children’s sport, such as grassroots football, will also return.
Step two will come into effect no earlier than 12 April and will see wider areas of the economy reopen, including:
- Non-essential retail, hairdressers and public buildings such as museums and libraries.
- Outdoor settings such as alcohol takeaways, beer gardens and restaurants with outdoor tables. Customers will have to be seated but there will be no need to have a meal with alcohol.
- Outdoor settings such as zoos and theme parks.
- Indoor leisure such as swimming pools and gyms.
- Self-contained holiday accommodation, such as self-catering and camp sites.
- Funerals can continue with up to 30 people, and weddings with up to 15 guests.
Social contact rules will continue to apply in all settings, meaning no indoor mixing between different households will be permitted.
Step three will take effect no earlier than 17 May and will include:
- The “rule of six” abolished for outdoor gatherings, replaced with a limit of 30 people.
- Two households can mix indoors – with the rule of six applied in hospitality settings like pubs.
- Indoor venues such as the inside of pubs and restaurants will reopen.
- Cinemas, hotels, hostels, B&Bs, play centres, theatres and concert halls, and sporting events are expected to reopen with social distancing measures in place.
- Up to 30 people will be able to attend weddings, receptions, funerals and wakes.
The fourth step will take effect no earlier than 21 June and could potentially see all legal limits on social contact removed. The remaining closed sectors of the economy, such as nightclubs, will also reopen.
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