At the beginning of this month (March 2021), Boris Johnson announced a four-step roadmap to recovery to exit from the current lockdown to try and ease us out of it completely over the next four months.
This roadmap is underpinned by four key tests, which will act as a sort of checklist that needs to be “ticked off” before we can move onto the next stage of reopening. Each step is set at five weeks apart, which gives the UK government four weeks to monitor how the previous step is going and one week to give people notice of any change.
The four tests are:
- Vaccine roll-out going as planned
- Vaccine effective in bringing down the number of deaths and hospitalisations
- Case numbers not rising so fast that the NHS is at risk of being overwhelmed
- New variants do not create unforeseen risks
If all goes to plan, then the lifting of restrictions will happen in a uniform way across the whole of England, meaning there should be no more need for a Tier system.
So, what are the important dates you need to keep in mind?
Step One: Part One: March 8th 2021
- All primary and secondary schools in England have now reopened, with testing at home and testing at school happening in all secondary schools according to the individual school policy.
- Indoor and outdoor school sports have returned, with pupils now able to take part in PE lessons.
- After school clubs are now allowed to take place as well
- Residents in care homes are now allowed one single visitor, who can visit them repeated times.
- The visitor must get a COVID-19 test beforehand and wear protective equipment
- People can meet one other person outside for socialising, not just exercise
Step One: Part Two: March 29th
If all goes to plan and the R rate continues to go down then from the 29th March:
- Six different people from six different households or two households (with the total number of people being more than 6 six) will be allowed to meet outside – either in public spaces or in back gardens
- The ‘Stay at Home’ guidance will be dropped and there will be a loosening in how far people can travel to see someone outside of their household
- Outdoor organised sports for children and adults can resume, both for socially distanced sports such as golf or team sports such as football
Step Two: April 12th
The next stage in the easing of lockdowns is predicted to be:
- All non-essential shops, such as clothing stores and mobile phone stores, will be allowed to reopen but people will still be encouraged to visit stores alone
- Pubs and Restaurants can open their outdoor spaces allowing up to six people from six different households or two households to meet
- One household will be allowed to stay overnight somewhere else in the UK, but not with another household. Accommodation must be self-contained, like a cottage, so hotels and B & B’s will not be able to reopen
- Hairdressers and nail salons will be able to open
- Outdoor hospitality venues such as Zoos will be able to open
- The maximum number of attendees at wakes and wedding will rise from 6 to 15
Step Three: May 17th
- People can begin to enter each other’s homes again with groups of up to six people or two households can meet indoors
- Pubs and restaurants can open their indoor spaces, but it must be table service
- Hotels and B & B’s can reopen
- Indoor sports and gym classes will be allowed to take place
- Indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas and theatres will be allowed to open – although we are not sure of what the rules surrounding this will be yet
- Wedding receptions, funerals, wakes, christenings and other life events can be attended by up to 30 people
Step Four: June 21st
Step Four is when we get back our lives as close to normal as we can with no limits on attendance for funerals and weddings, and large indoor venues, such as nightclubs, being allowed to open again.
The most important thing for us now is to find out when international travel will be allowed. At the moment, it is looking like May 17th at the moment, but this is dependent on vaccine certificates and testing levels. We have our fingers crossed, though, that the borders could be relaxed in time for the summer holidays.
However, there is no guarantee that the current rules which ban anyone from travelling overseas for a holiday, will be lifted after the review of May 17th, so we can only watch and hope for the best.