As stated in the the Prime Minister's press release, the roadmap outlines the four steps for easing restrictions with dates being indicative and subject to change. Before proceeding to the next step, the Government will examine the data to assess the impact of previous easements. This assessment will be based on four tests:
- The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.
- Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
- Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
- Our assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.
Importantly, there will be a minimum of five weeks between each step: four weeks for the data to reflect changes in restrictions followed by seven days’ notice of the restrictions to be eased. This will give adequate time to assess the impact of each step and reduce the risk of having to re-impose restrictions at a later date.
Step Three Assessment: The four tests are currently being met so the third step will proceed from 17 May.
In the Prime Minister's statement on Monday 5 April 2021, he stated:
We can’t be complacent. We can see the waves of sickness afflicting other countries and we’ve seen how this story goes.
We still don’t know how strong the vaccine shield will be when cases begin to rise, as I’m afraid that they will – and that’s why we’re saying: Please get your vaccine or your second dose when your turn comes.
And please use the free NHS tests – even if you don’t feel ill, because remember 1 in 3 people with this virus doesn’t have any symptoms - and you can get these tests from pharmacies or your local test site, you can even order them on gov.uk and get home deliveries."
In the Prime Minister's announcment on Monday 10 May 2021, he stated:
I want to begin by thanking everyone again for your patience and for the sacrifices you’ve been making.
So from next Monday we are updating the guidance on close contact between friends and family, setting out the risks for everyone to make their own choices.
This does not mean we can suddenly throw caution to the winds.
In fact, more than a year into this pandemic, we all know that close contact, such as hugging, is a direct way of transmitting this disease.
So I urge you to think about the vulnerability of your loved ones - whether they have had a vaccine, one or two doses, and whether there has been time for that vaccine to take effect.
Remember outdoors is always safer than indoors. And if you are meeting indoors, remember to open a window and let in the fresh air.
Today we are announcing the single biggest step on our roadmap and it will allow us to do many of the things we’ve yearned to do for a long time.
So let’s protect these gains by continuing to exercise caution and common sense.
The four steps, as outlined in the Prime Minister's announcement on the 22 February, are as follows:
From 8 March
- The Clinically Extremely Vulnerable are advised to shield at least until the end of March.
Schools and Education Settings
Pupils and students in all schools and further education settings can safely return to face-to-face teaching, supported by twice-weekly testing of secondary school and college pupils.
Families and childcare bubbles will also be encouraged to get tested regularly.
Breakfast and afterschool clubs can also re-open - and other children’s activities, including sport, can restart where necessary to help parents to work.
Students on university courses requiring practical teaching, specialist facilities or onsite assessments will also return but all others will need to continue learning online, and we will review the options for when they can return by the end of the Easter Holidays.
- Stay at Home remains: if you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should always stay in your local area - unless it is necessary to go further, for example to go to work. Staying in your local area means stay in the village, town, or part of the city where you live.
You can leave home for recreation outdoors - such as a coffee on a bench or a picnic in a park - with your household or support bubble, or, when on your own, with one person outside your household (i.e. yourself and one other).
- Every care home resident will be able to nominate a named visitor, able to see them regularly provided they are tested and wear PPE.
From 29 March
- Rule of Six will return outdoors, including in private gardens, and outdoor meetings of two households (i.e. yours and one other) will also be permitted on the same basis so that families in different circumstances can meet. Importantly, people from different households will still need to be socially distanced from one another when meeting outdoors. No household mixing is permitted indoors unless an exemption already applies.
- Outdoor sports facilities – such as tennis and basketball courts, and open-air swimming pools – will be able to reopen in line with the wider social contact limits.
- Formally organised outdoor sports – for adults and under 18s - can also restart and will not be subject to the gatherings limits, but should be compliant with guidance issued by national governing bodies.
- People will no longer be legally required to stay at home but many lockdown restrictions will remain. Still work from home and minimise travel where possible.
- People should continue to work from home where they can and minimise all travel wherever possible.
From 12 April
- Non-essential retail will reopen, as will personal care including hairdressers and nail salons - such premises should only be visited alone or with household groups.
- Indoor leisure facilities such as gyms will re-open.
- Holiday-lets will re-open, but only for use by individuals or household groups.
- Pubs and restaurants will begin to reopen outdoors with no curfew and no requirement for alcohol to be accompanied by a substantial meal. The requirement to order, eat and drink while seated (‘table service’) will remain.
Outdoor Recreation Facilities
- Zoos, theme parks and drive-in cinemas will re-open.
Libraries and Community Centres
- Public libraries and community centres will re-open.
- Funerals can continue with up to 30 people.
- The numbers able to attend weddings, receptions and commemorative events such as wakes will rise to 15.
- Driving tests may resume - restart of driving lessons in England and Wales from 12 April 2021, and the restart of driving tests in England and Wales from 22 April 2021, more information here.
From 17 May
- Most restrictions on meetings outdoors will be lifted, subject to a limit of thirty.
- You will be allowed to meet indoors subject to the Rule of Six or the meeting of two households (i.e. yours and one other).
- New guidance on meeting friends and family will emphasise personal responsibility rather than government rules.
- You should stay 2 metres apart from anyone who is not in your household or support bubble where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings) if you cannot stay 2 metres apart.
- The rules for care home residents visiting out and receiving visitors will change, allowing up to five named visitors (two at any one time), provided visitors test negative for COVID-19.
- We will also reopen pubs and restaurants indoors along with cinemas and, hotels, hostels, and B&Bs.
- Indoor entertainment and attractions will open with COVID-secure measures in place.
- People will be able to attend indoor and outdoor events, including live performances, sporting events and business events. Attendance at these events will be capped according to venue type, and attendees should follow the COVID-secure measures set out by those venues.
- Children's play areas will reopen with COVID-secure measures in place.
- Adult indoor group sports and exercise classes will resume.
- Up to 30 people will be able to attend weddings, receptions and wakes, other life events that will be permitted include bar mitzvahs and christenings.
- The legal limit of 30 mourners will be removed for funerals - more information here
- All students will be able to return to university.
- Secondary school students will no longer be required to wear face coverings.
- International travel can begin to safely reopen and there will no longer be a legal restriction or permitted reason required to travel internationally - more information here
- Domestic overnight stays will be permitted.
- Support groups and parent and child group gathering limits will increase to 30 people (not including under 5s).
From 21 June - if the data continues to meet the four tests and subject to the results of the review
- With appropriate mitigations, we will aim to remove all legal limits on social contact, and on weddings and other life events.
- We will re-open everything up to and including nightclubs, and enable large events such as theatre performances above the limits of Step 3, potentially using testing to reduce the risk of infection.
As the Prime Minister said, our journey back towards normality will be subject to resolving a number of key questions and to do this we will conduct four reviews.
One will assess how long we need to maintain social distancing and face masks. This will also inform guidance on working from home – which should continue wherever possible until this review is complete.
A second review will consider the resumption of international travel which is vital for many businesses which have been hardest hit including retail, hospitality, tourism and aviation - see here for details of the international travel traffic light system.
The third review will consider the potential role of Covid-status certification in helping venues to open safely but mindful of the many concerns surrounding exclusion, discrimination and privacy.
And the fourth review will look at the safe return of major events.
An update on the findings of the reviews thus far can be found here.
The roadmap can also be viewed on GOV.UK here along with further information.
For further information on what one can and cannot do under restrictions, please click here.
The Government have now vaccinated 2 in 3 adults with at least one dose across our United Kingdom and 2 in 5 adults have now been fully vaccinated.
The Government have offered vaccinations to everyone in the nine highest priority groups – a significant milestone in our vaccination programme - so we can now move forward with completing essential second doses and making progress towards our target of offering all adults a vaccine by the end of July.
More more information on the vaccine rollout nationally and locally, please click here.