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 is split into two parts:
- Since 8 March – Primary and secondary schools across England reopened. People are able to meet another individual from outside their household or bubble in a public space.
- Since 29 March – Outdoor gatherings of either two households or up to six people are allowed. Outdoor sports facilities can reopen and organised adult and children’s sport, such as grassroots football, can also return.
Step two came into effect on 12 April and wider areas of the economy can 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 took effect on 17 May and includes:
- Indoor hospitality can reopen. Hospitality businesses must operate table service.
- Indoor entertainment, such as cinemas, theatres, casinos and museums, can reopen.
- Organised adult sport and exercise classes can resume indoors, and saunas and steam rooms may reopen.
- All remaining outdoor entertainment can reopen, such as outdoor cinemas and performances.
- All holiday accommodation can reopen, including hotels and B&Bs.
- Some larger indoor events, such as conferences and sports events, can go ahead with some restrictions on the number of attendees.
- People can meet outdoors in groups of up to 30.
- Socialising indoors is permitted in groups of six or a maximum of two households.
- COVID-secure rules remain in place for the workplace and businesses.
England moved to step four of the roadmap for easing restrictions on 19 July. Most remaining coronavirus restrictions will end as part of step four:
- All legal limits on numbers meeting indoors and outdoors have been lifted.
- All businesses, including nightclubs, can reopen.
- The 1m-plus social distancing rule has ended.
- The requirement to wear face coverings in law has been lifted. However, the Government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport.
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