Prime minister Boris Johnson will unveil England’s route out of lockdown this afternoon, first announcing the news to MP’s in the House of Commons before a public press conference at 7pm this evening.
The “roadmap” will see various aspects of normal life re-opening step-by-step, with rules due to be lifted in stages and four conditions required to be met at each stage.
The first stage will be split into two parts, with Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi informing BBC Breakfast:
- From 8 March: All schools will open with outdoor after-school sports and activities allowed. Recreation in a public space will be allowed between two people, meaning they would be allowed to sit down for a drink or picnic.
- From 29 March: Outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households will be allowed. It is understood this will include gatherings in private gardens. Outdoor sports facilities will reopen and organised adult and children’s sport will also return.
Downing Street confirmed the four conditions needed for each stage of lockdown rules to be lifted:
- The coronavirus vaccine programme continues to go to plan
- Evidence shows 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 variants of the virus do not fundamentally change the risk of lifting restrictions
The suggested roadmap also paints a bleak immediate future for physical retail, with non-essential retail not expected to open until early April, alongside outside pubs and restaurants.
The news comes after retail experts warned that recent job losses will be the “tip of the iceberg” without further support from the Treasury, as new figures reveal about 850 jobs have been lost from the sector each working day since the start of the year.
April will also reportedly see the return of the hairdressers and beauty salons,
May will see cinemas, theatres, indoor pubs and restaurants reopen.
Foreign holidays and nightclubs are not expected to reopen until August, with Boris Johnson pledging that all adults in the UK will have been offered their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of July 2021.