Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to address the nation tonight, at 7pm.
He will announce that from 8th March, people in England will see restrictions start to lift and the government’s four-step roadmap offer a route back to a more normal life.
The success of the vaccination programme is one factor – so far over 17 million people have had their jabs – but by no means the whole story. The public have also risen to the challenge of suppressing COVID-19: by obeying the law; staying at home; getting tested when needed; isolating when required, and following the ‘hands, face, space’ and ‘letting fresh air in’ guidance.
Taken together, this means that even though absolute case numbers remain relatively high, the Government will be able to begin relaxing the current strict lockdown on a step-by-step basis.
In Step 1, the priority is to ensure that all children and students return safely to face-to-face education in schools and colleges from 8 March.
The ‘stay at home’ rule will end on 29 March but many restrictions will remain in place. People should continue to work from home where they can and minimise the number of journeys they make where possible, avoiding travel at the busiest times and routes. Travel abroad will continue to be prohibited.
Step 2, which will be no earlier than 12 April, will see the opening of non-essential retail; personal care premises such as hairdressers and nail salons; and public buildings, including libraries and community centres. Indoor leisure facilities such as gyms will also reopen (but only for use by people on their own or in household groups); as will most outdoor attractions and settings including outdoor hospitality venues, zoos, theme parks, and drive-in cinemas. Self-contained accommodation such as campsites and holiday lets, where indoor facilities are not shared with other households, can also reopen.
Step 3 will include indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas and children’s play areas; the rest of the accommodation sector, including hotels, hostels and B&Bs; and indoor adult group sports and exercise classes.
Finally, before Step 4 begins, the government will complete a review of social distancing and other long-term measures that have been put in place to cut transmission.
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