Today, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced the government’s roadmap out of lockdown for England. The plan will be implemented in four steps, with a minimum of five weeks between each step: four weeks for the scientific data to reflect the changes in restrictions and to be analysed; followed by one week’s advance notice of the restrictions that will be eased.
The national lockdown guidance on what you can and cannot do has been updated to include the changes ahead from Monday 8 March. Until that point England is still in a national lockdown so people must stay at home, leaving only where permitted by law, and follow the rules.
At each step, the restrictions will be lifted across the whole of England at the same time:
Step 1 (8 March and 29 March)
- All pupils to return to schools and further education colleges for all years. Wraparound childcare, such as after-school clubs, can reopen. Childcare and children’s supervised activities can also resume where necessary to enable parents to work or engage in similar activities. Twice-weekly rapid testing for secondary and college pupils – in addition to regular testing for all teachers – to reduce the chance of the virus spreading in schools.
- Higher Education students at English universities on practical courses can also return from 8 March.
- Care home residents can have one named visitor indoors who must take a rapid COVID test that is negative and wear appropriate PPE.
- Outdoor recreation, such as a picnic, is allowed, with one other person, or with your household or support bubble.
- Outdoor gatherings (including in private gardens) of either six people (the rule of six) or two households will also be allowed, making it easier for friends and families to meet outside.
- Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts, and open-air swimming pools, will also be allowed to reopen, and people will be able to take part in formally organised outdoor sports.
- 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;
- people should minimise the number of journeys they make where possible, avoiding travel at the busiest times and routes
- travel abroad will continue to be prohibited, other than for a small number of permitted reasons. Holidays abroad will not be allowed, given it will remain important to manage the risk of imported variants and protect the vaccination programme.
Step 2 (no earlier than 12 April)
- Opening of non-essential retail.
- Outdoor hospitality can open. Hospitality venues will be allowed to serve people outdoors at Step 2 and there will be no need for customers to order a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks and no curfew, although customers must order, eat and drink while seated (‘table service’).
- Personal care premises such as hairdressers and nail salons can open.
- Public buildings, including libraries and community centres can open.
- Indoor leisure facilities such as gyms will also reopen (but only for use by people on their own or in household groups).
- Most outdoor attractions and settings including 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.
- Funerals can continue with up to 30 mourners, and the number of people able to attend weddings, receptions and commemorative events such as wakes will rise to 15.
Step 3 (no earlier than 17 May)
The government will look to continue easing limits on seeing friends and family wherever possible, allowing people to decide on the appropriate level of risk for their circumstances and allowing households to mix indoors. This means that from Step 3:
- Most legal restrictions on meeting others outdoors will be lifted – although gatherings of over 30 people will remain illegal.
- Indoors, the rule of six or two households will apply.
- By no later than Step 3, the advice on social distancing between friends and family will be updated, including hugging. But until this point, people should continue to keep their distance from anyone not in their household or support bubble.
- Most businesses in all but the highest risk sectors will be able to reopen. In all sectors, COVID-Secure guidance will remain in place and businesses may not cater for groups bigger than the legal limits.
- Indoor hospitality will reopen – and as in Step 2, venues will not have to serve a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks and there will be no curfew. Customers will, however, have to order, eat and drink while seated.
- Other indoor locations to open in Step 3 including:
- indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas and children’s play areas;
- the rest of the accommodation sector, including hotels, hostels and B&Bs;
- indoor adult group sports and exercise classes;
- some larger performances and sporting events in indoor venues with a capacity of 1,000 people or half-full (whichever is a lower number), and in outdoor venues with a capacity of 4,000 people or half-full (whichever is a lower number);
- in the largest outdoor seated venues, where crowds can be spread out, up to 10,000 people will be able to attend (or a quarter-full, whichever is lower);
- up to 30 people will be able to attend weddings, receptions and wakes, as well as funerals and other life event ceremonies.
Step 4 (no earlier than 21 June)
- Remaining premises will reopen, including nightclubs; and
- restrictions will be eased on large events and performances that apply in Step 3. This will be subject to the results of a scientific Events Research Programme to test the outcome of certain pilot events through the spring and summer, where we will trial the use of testing and other techniques to cut the risk of infection. The same Events Research Programme will guide decisions on whether all limits can be removed on weddings and other life events.