Boris Johnson has announced the government’s roadmap to cautiously ease lockdown restrictions in England.
In a statement to parliament this afternoon he paid tribute to the extraordinary success of the UK’s vaccination programme and the resolve of the British public in following the lockdown restrictions, which has helped to cut infection rates and reduce the spread of the virus.
All aspects of England’s society could reopen by June 21, Boris Johnson has announced, so long as the battle against coronavirus continues to go to plan.
The roadmap outlines four steps for easing restrictions. Before proceeding to the next step, the Government will examine the data to assess the impact of previous steps.
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.
Boris Johnson outlines the four tests that the incremental easing of restrictions will have to meet, adding that there will be at least five weeks between each step.
- 8 March: Back to school, outdoor socialising with one other person, care home residents allowed one visitor
- After 29 March: Six people allowed to meet up in the garden, outdoor sports to resume, stay-at-home ends
- After 12 April: Non-essential shops, hairdressers, beauty salons, gyms, libraries, zoos, museums, pubs, restaurants and bars to reopen – but outside only and with just your household
- After 17 May: Gatherings of up to 30 outside, rule-of-six inside, weddings, funerals, wakes resume, alongside large-scale sports events/performances
- After 21 June: All number limits on socialising removed, nightclubs could reopen, vaccine passports, international travel could resume
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.
The Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Scientific Adviser have made clear that 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.
Mr Johnson warned the Covid-19 threat “remains substantial”, but said he was able to plan for a lifting of restrictions due to the “extraordinary success” of the vaccine rollout.
He added “There is therefore no credible route to a Zero Covid Britain or indeed a Zero Covid World.”