What is the roadmap for coming out of lockdown? Key dates and rule changes

Chiara Giordano and Sam Hancock
·4-min read
A boy arrives at St Mary’s CE Primary School with gifts for his teacher on 8 March 2021 in Stoke on Trent (Getty)
A boy arrives at St Mary’s CE Primary School with gifts for his teacher on 8 March 2021 in Stoke on Trent (Getty)

The first phase of England’s roadmap out of lockdown got underway on 8 March, as pupils returned to the classroom and care homes began allowing visitors once more.

Boris Johnson unveiled the staged approach to easing lockdown restrictions last month, confirming there would be three key steps taken at five-week intervals to give ministers and scientists time to judge the effects of gradually increasing the amount of household mixing.

The prime minister said at the time the government would be “cautious” in its approach, and four key tests would need to be met as restrictions are gradually relaxed across the country from next month.

As well as a national return to in-person teaching, outdoor after-school sports and activities resumed across the country on 8 March.

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Mr Johnson has reminded the public that the timeline is dependant on Covid infections and deaths staying down as people begin mixing in various settings after being under strict stay-home instructions since January.

What restrictions will be lifted first?

8 March: All school and college students in all year groups headed back to the classroom earlier, 8 March, with outdoor after-school sports and activities also allowed to restart.

The “one plus one” rule is also now in place, which means one person from one household is allowed to meet one friend or family member from a separate house.

Care home residents are allowed a single, regular visitor who must take a lateral flow test and wear personal protective equipment.

29 March: The “rule of six” will return, along with a new two-household rule, at the end of the month.

This will allow either six people from a maximum of six separate households to meet in outdoor settings such as parks and private gardens from 29 March, or a maximum of two households, regardless of the number of people.

This means friends and family members will be able to sit down for a coffee or have a picnic in the park, something not currently allowed under lockdown.

Outdoor sports facilities, such as tennis and basketball courts and golf courses, will also be able to reopen.

The government’s “stay at home” slogan will be replaced by “stay local” at this point, but people will still be encouraged to work from home and minimise all travel where possible.

No earlier than 12 April: The hospitality industry, including pubs and restaurants, is expected to reopen outdoors with the rule of six or new two-household rule in force.

There will be no curfew or restrictions on alcohol only being served with a substantial meal, however customers must be seated.

Non-essential retail, hairdressers, barbers and nail salons, will all reopen, as will gyms, zoos, theme parks, drive-in cinemas, public libraries, community centres and self-contained holiday accommodation.

Funerals will be allowed to take place with a maximum of 30 people, while weddings will resume with up to 15 attendees.

No earlier than 17 May: Gatherings of up to 30 people will be permitted outdoors at this point. However, the rule of six and two-household rule will apply indoors as people are allowed to meet inside for the first time in months.

Pubs and restaurants will reopen indoors, as will cinemas, children’s play areas, hotels and B&Bs.

Some large events will be able to take place, including conferences, theatre and concert performances and sports events.

Controlled indoor events of up to 1,000 people or 50 per cent of a venue’s capacity, whichever is lower, will be permitted, as will outdoor events with a capacity of either 50 per cent or 4,000 people, whichever is lower.

The government will also make a special provision for large, outdoor, seated venues where crowds can be safely distributed, allowing up to 10,000 people or 25 per cent of total seated capacity, whichever is lower.

Up to 30 people will be allowed to attend weddings, receptions, funerals, and commemorative events, including wakes. A broader range of stand-alone life events will also be permitted at this step, including bar mitzvahs and christenings.

No earlier than 21 June: All legal limits on social contact will be lifted from 21 June at the earliest.

Once social-distancing is completely eased, nightclubs should be able to reopen and restrictions on events and live performances, including weddings, will finally being lifted.

What four conditions must be met?

The timetable for lifting restrictions will be subject to four tests at each stage of easing measures, including the success of the vaccination rollout, the effectiveness of the vaccination programme at reducing hospital admissions and deaths, infection rates and the impact of any new coronavirus variants.

The government will also conduct four reviews, including looking at coronavirus status certificates to allow people to prove if they have had a vaccine or negative test result, pilots of large events, international travel, and the withdrawal of social distancing measures and face masks.

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