What’s the roadmap for lifting lockdown?

A “roadmap” for easing Covid restrictions in England has been announced by the prime minister.

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. The aim is for all restrictions to be lifted, which will happen by 21 June at the earliest.

Other parts of the UK aim to outline their plans for easing lockdown in the coming weeks.

Stage one is in two parts:

8 March

  • All schools and colleges will reopen
  • University students can return for practical courses. There will be a review by the end of the Easter holidays for all other students
  • 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
  • Two people from different households can meet outside for recreation, which can include “a coffee on a bench”
  • One nominated person can visit care homes, but will need PPE, a lateral flow test and to “keep physical contact to a minimum”
  • Weddings attended by up to six people can take place in any circumstances
A man visiting his relative in a care home

29 March

  • 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 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
Friends playing basketball

Stage two

No earlier than 12 April:

  • All shops allowed to open
  • Restaurants and pub gardens will be allowed to serve customers sitting outdoors, including alcohol
  • Gyms and spas can reopen for individuals and households
  • Hairdressers, beauty salons and other “close contact services” can reopen
  • UK “staycations” away from home permitted, with self-contained accommodation able to reopen for use by members of the same household
  • Children allowed to attend indoor play activities, with up to 15 parents or guardians allowed to join them
  • Zoos, theme parks and drive-in cinemas can reopen
  • Libraries and community centres can reopen
  • Weddings attended by up to 15 people can take place
A waitress serving food in a pub garden

Stage three

No earlier than 17 May:

  • People can meet in groups of up to 30 outdoors
  • Six people or two households can meet indoors
  • Up to 30 people can meet to celebrate weddings or other life events, like christenings
  • Remaining outdoor entertainment, such as outdoor theatres and cinemas can open
  • Indoor entertainment such as museums, theatres, cinemas and children’s play areas can open
  • Performances and large events will be subject to limits though. 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 travel will resume no earlier than 17 May
  • Adult indoor group sports and exercise classes can start up again
Small group meeting indoors

Stage four

No earlier than 21 June:

  • All legal limits on social contact will be removed
  • No legal limits on the number of people who can attend weddings, funerals and other life events. From April, the government will run pilots for events such as large weddings, festivals and work conferences. This will help to determine how measures such as enhanced testing might allow large groups to attend without social distancing
  • Nightclubs will be allowed to reopen
Wedding couple

What are the four tests for easing restrictions?

Each stage will be a minimum of five weeks apart. Four conditions must be met at each stage before proceeding to the next one:

  • The coronavirus vaccine programme continues to go to plan
  • Vaccines are sufficiently reducing the number of people dying with the virus or needing hospital treatment
  • Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospital admissions
  • New coronavirus variants do not fundamentally change the risk of lifting restrictions
22 February graphic showing lockdown easing timeline
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What are England’s current lockdown rules?

People must stay at home and only go out if you have “a reasonable excuse”.

You are not to meet people socially unless you live together or form a support bubble.

People breaking these rules can face fines, including an £800 penalty for those attending house parties of more than 15 people – and a £10,000 fine for the organisers.

"Stay at home" sign

How are lockdown rules changing around the UK?

In Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced minor easing of restrictions, including a resumption of weddings and civil ceremonies on 1 March. He said he hopes the “stay-at-home” requirement can end within three weeks.

Children aged three to seven returned to school on 22 February. It is hoped older primary age groups – and secondary school pupils preparing for exams – will return on Monday 15 March.

In Scotland, the government hopes to publish a route out of lockdown in the coming week. But First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned against booking Easter holidays, either at home or abroad.

Primary school children in years P1-P3, and senior pupils required to carry out practical assignments, return on 22 February.

Northern Ireland has extended its lockdown until 1 April, with a review of current measures on 18 March.

Primary school children in years 1-3 will return on 8 March and secondary school pupils in years 12-14 on 22 March.

Source: BBC