Picnics and meeting friends for a coffee in the park 'to be first steps when lockdown starts to lift from March 8'

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
People enjoy the Bank Holiday Monday warm weather in front of Tower Bridge, in Potters Field Park,  London, as people head outside with lockdown measures eased. Picture date: Monday 25th May 2020. Photo credit should read: David Jensen/EMPICS Entertainment
People enjoy the Bank Holiday Monday warm weather in front of Tower Bridge, in Potters Field Park, London, 25 May, 2020. (PA)

Picnics and meeting friends for a coffee in the park will reportedly be the first activities allowed to resume as lockdown restrictions are eased from next month.

Boris Johnson has said he is “optimistic” he will be able to outline plans in the coming days for a “cautious” easing of lockdown in England.

From March 8, people will be able to go for coffee or have a picnic in an outdoor place with anyone from their own household, or with someone outside their household on a one-to-one basis, a senior government source told the Telegraph.

Read: Men fined £200 each for boozing at makeshift pub during lockdown

Playing golf and tennis outside will follow shortly and “outdoor sports... is quite likely to relax in March”, the newspaper reported.

But households will not be allowed to mix inside or outside.

It comes as the prime minister said he was "hopeful" that schools would also be able to reopen by March 8.

Johnson is meeting his cabinet and scientific advisers this week to start drawing up a roadmap out of lockdown before he addresses the nation on 22 February.

People walk in Green Park, London, during England's third national lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus.
People walk in Green Park, London, during England's third national lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus. (PA)

Ministers have been saying privately that they expect pubs reopen as soon as the first weekend in April, just in time for Easter lunch, the Telegraph reported.

The government is reportedly also working on an Australia-style approach to lockdowns, which would see local areas plunged into restrictions in the case of a flare-up.

Asked on Saturday if people could be drinking in pub gardens in April, Johnson said: ‘If you don’t mind I’m going to ask you just wait a little bit longer, give us some more time to look at the data about what’s happening, look at the way the numbers are coming down, study also I think, very importantly, the efficacy of the vaccines – are they working in the way that we hope that they are?

“Making sure that they’re really helping along with the lockdown to drive down the incidents. That’s the key thing. I’m optimistic, I won’t hide it from you. I’m optimistic, but we have to be cautious.”

Meanwhile, a group of Tory MPs have been putting pressure on Johnson to lift all coronavirus measures by the end of April.

Watch: COVID-19 - All restrictions must be lifted by end of April, lockdown-sceptic MPs

In a letter to the PM seen by several news outlets, 63 Conservative MPs who are members of the Coronavirus Recovery Group said as a "national priority” the “reopening all schools to all pupils must be achieved by March 8".

They added that given the pace of the vaccine rollout “pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues can open for Easter," which falls on Sunday 4 April.

Read more: What you can and can't do under current lockdown rules

The letter said: “We all have concerns about outside sport and swimming pools, gyms, personal care businesses, care home visits, hotels, events industry businesses, and allowing couples to get married.

“All restrictions remaining after March 8 should be proportionate to the ever-increasing number of people we have protected.

“The burden is on ministers to demonstrate the evidence of effectiveness and proportionality with a cost-benefit analysis for each restriction, and a roadmap for when they will be removed.”

Watch: Daily politics briefing, 14 February

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting