How might the road map out of lockdown look?

Aine Fox, PA
·5-min read

From getting children back at their desks to reopening pubs, speculation is rife as to how lockdown restrictions might be eased.

Boris Johnson is due to set out his “road map” next Monday.

Here is a look at how it might pan out.

– How is the Government approaching the easing of restrictions?

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it is important that measures are eased
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it is important that measures are eased ‘carefully and cautiously’ (Tolga Akmen/PA)

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Government “absolutely” wants the current lockdown to be the last.

He told BBC Breakfast that he wants to ensure measures are eased “carefully and cautiously”.

He said: “Having a sustainable exit, so lifting the measures in such a way that can be sustainable and we don’t have to have another lockdown, that is obviously an important part of our considerations.

“For me, making sure that as we lift measures, we do so carefully and cautiously to make sure that we don’t have to put them on again, that is at the core of the judgment we have to make.”

Mr Johnson said he will set out dates “if we possibly can”, explaining they will likely be target dates “by which we hope to do something at the earliest”.

– What will reopen first?

Schools will reopen first, with March 8 having been given as the earliest date (Martin Rickett/PA)
Schools will reopen first, with March 8 having been given as the earliest date (Martin Rickett/PA)

Ministers have said the re-opening of schools in England on March 8 remains their first priority, although reports have suggested the return may be staggered, with secondary schools going back a week later.

Mr Johnson said no decisions have been made on whether year groups across schools in England will return together or whether primaries and secondaries could be staggered.

Professor Neil Ferguson, who advises the Government as part of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), said modelling suggests “there probably is leeway to reopen all schools” from March 8 but acknowledged there will be “slightly more of a risk” in a rise in cases than if just primary schools were reopened.

Professor Gabriel Scally, president of the epidemiology and public health section at the Royal Society of Medicine and a member of Independent Sage, said schools must be made safe before reopening.

He told Good Morning Britain: “By taking on extra space, by improving ventilation, by extending mask-wearing in schools – all of these things will help.”

– How is the rest of the road map looking?

It is thought non-essential shops will reopen after schools (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
It is thought non-essential shops will reopen after schools (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

After schools, it is expected the next areas of easing will be non-essential shops and the rules on outdoor recreation and socialising.

Media reports have suggested various reopening dates for hospitality, with optimistic suggestions varying from Easter weekend to May, with the caveat that the initial reopening may be for outdoors rather than indoors.

– What is the hospitality industry saying?

UKHospitality has said the sector needs a “very clear phased exit strategy
UKHospitality has said the sector needs a ‘very clear phased exit strategy’ (Nick Potts/PA)

Kate Nicholls, chief executive for UKHospitality, has called for a “very clear phased exit strategy from the lockdown”.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain, she said they need “not just that initial date but the phasing out of those restrictions linked to the rollout of the vaccine”.

She added that there would need to be more support for businesses if restrictions continue.

In a recent letter to Mr Johnson, chief executive of pub giant Young’s, Patrick Dardis, said: “There is no reason why pubs cannot open in April, giving people back their liberty and their much-loved pub.”

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s World At One on Monday, Mr Dardis described reports of allowing pubs to serve customers outside only as “a nonsense” and “just a lockdown in another name”.

But Dr Bharat Pankhania, senior clinical lecturer at the University of Exeter medical school, said talking about pubs reopening in April is “premature” and pub bosses need to realise there is a danger of going “back to square one”.

– And what about holidays?

Travel industry groups said it is vital that the Government works with them to develop a roadmap to reopen the sector (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Travel industry groups said it is vital that the Government works with them to develop a road map to reopen the sector (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Ministers are looking at plans for people who live in the same household to be allowed to go on breaks together from April, the Times newspaper reported.

The Save Future Travel Coalition, made up of 12 leading travel trade organisations, has said it is vital that the Government works with the industry to develop a road map to reopen travel.

The coalition warns that the industry cannot afford to wait until everyone in the UK is vaccinated before people start to travel again, otherwise insolvencies and redundancies will be inevitable.

The industry argues that a risk-based approach to travel, including a co-ordinated approach to vaccine certificates and use of passenger testing will be critical in opening up the overseas travel market.

Last week Downing Street said the Government is doing “everything we can to make sure people can have a holiday this summer” but Mr Johnson and other ministers have repeatedly cautioned that it is too early to be certain about what people will be able to do regarding holidays.

– When will be able to see family again?

Plans could include grandparents being able to meet their grandchildren outside, reports suggest (Martin Rickett/PA)
Plans could include grandparents being able to meet their grandchildren outside, reports suggest (Martin Rickett/PA)

This is still unclear, but the Daily Telegraph reported that plans are being considered that would allow grandparents to see grandchildren outdoors as early as next month.

The Daily Mail reported that the rule of six could return for outdoor gatherings, allowing people to meet in groups for walks or picnics in the park.