Prime Minister Boris Johnson sets out roadmap to lifting lockdown restrictions
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set out his roadmap to lifting lockdown restrictions in England, speaking in the House of Commons this afternoon (Monday, February 22).
It means from next month all schools can return, people can socialise in parks and public spaces with another person, and some sports can also make a comeback.
It comes after nearly seven weeks of staying, working and educating at home following what was a dangerous surge in coronavirus cases.
Despite the imminent easing of measures, the Prime Minister told Parliament this afternoon the 'stay at home message' would remain in place.
"The threat remains substantial, with hospital numbers only now starting to reduce to numbers back in April," said Mr Johnson.
"The data suggests both vaccines are resistant against the dominant strains of coronavirus. But no vaccine will ever be 100 per cent effective and like any virus, covid-19 will mutate.
"Lifting lockdown will result in more cases, hospitalisations, and deaths. This would happen whenever lockdown is lifted, now or in six or nine months.
"There is therefore no credible route to a zero-covid world.
"It's crucial this roadmap should be cautious, but irreversible."
Mr Johnson said there was a need to relax measures in a cautious manner, but that before proceeding to the next round of easing restrictions — ministers would assess vaccination targets; vaccines would lead to a reduction in hospitalisations and deaths; pressure on NHS; and covid variants.
The easing of restrictions forms the first of four steps in the roadmap to lifting lockdown.
Chief scientific advisor Sir Patrick Vallance has warned the government today another wave of cases could come about if lockdown restrictions are eased to quickly.
Below is the current roadmap to lifting lockdown in England:
- All schools will return, as well as after-school sports and activities
- Outdoor recreation with one other person is allowed, meaning people will be allowed to sit together in a park with a coffee, drink or picnic
- Care home residents will be able to nominate one person to visit them
- Funerals can take place with 30 people attending, while wakes and weddings can resume with six people attending.
- Larger groups will be able to meet outside, including in private gardens, up to a maximum of six people or two households
- Tennis courts, golf courses and other outdoor sport facilities will re-open
- Organised adults and children's sport, including grassroots football, will restart
The next stage of easing is expected to kick in from April 12, in five-week intervals, but all dates are dependent on the above four tests being met.
- Non-essential retail, hairdressers, nail salons, gyms and outdoor areas in hospitality venues (such as beer gardens) set to reopen
- Along with libraries, museums, zoos and theme parks
- Self-contained accommodation will re-open, but people will only be able to stay with members of their household
- The number of guests able to attend wakes and weddings increases from six to 15.
- Pilot events will begin
- Pubs, restaurants, cinemas, hotels, B&Bs and children's play areas set to open, with fans allowed back into sporting events
- Most rules on social contact outdoors will be lifted, while mixing of different households will be allowed indoors
- Up to 30 people will be allowed at weddings, funerals, wakes, receptions and christenings
- Organised indoor sport can resume
- Some large events, both indoors and outdoors, can resume but with limits on capacity
- All legal limits on social contact set to be removed, with the remaining sectors of the economy re-opened
- Weddings are the only events where some restrictions may have to remain