Today, the Prime Minister has published the roadmap out of COVID-19 restrictions, detailing the cautious and phased lifting of regulations over the coming months.
Boris Johnson was clear that the measures are contingent on 4 new tests – vaccine deployment, vaccines effectiveness in reducing hospitalisations and deaths, infection rates and new variants. The dates provided are the earliest opportunity for these measures to be lifted in 5 week stages, as it takes a minimum of 4 weeks for evidence to be collected and evaluated.
From March 8th, school and college pupils will return to face-to-face education. University students who need practical teaching or on-site assessments can go into campuses. In addition, two people from different households will be able to meet outside.
From March 29th the rule of 6 will resume to allow 6 people from different households to meet outside in a public or private garden. Two households can also meet even if there is more than 6 people. Outdoor facilities, sports and activities, such as golf, football and tennis, can restart.
Non-essential retail, beauty services and gyms will reopen their doors from earliest April 12th. Holidays lets within the country can resume in households. Pubs and outdoor dining can restart with no substantial meal rule on drinking alcohol. Zoos and theme parks can welcome visitors, as can public libraries.
In addition, on April 12th a review will be published on international travel.
Indoor gatherings of 6 people, or two households, may be allowed to start from May 17th as the hospitality sector can fully reopen. This includes pubs, restaurants and bars who can serve customers indoors. Theatres, cinemas and sports stadiums can welcome visitors in a socially distanced manner with capacity limits.
Finally, from June 21st a review will look into whether social distancing measures and legal limits to social contact can finally end. High risk sectors who have been completely closed, such as clubs, may start to reopen.
“It’s been such a tough start to the year and I know we’re all eager to get our lives back to normal as soon as it’s safe to do so.
“I’m delighted that based on the 4 tests the PM has set out, including the continuation of the successful vaccine rollout and monitoring any new variants, we will see our society and economy reopen over the next few months. Most importantly, we should soon be able to see those we love.”
The publications comes after the Prime Minister yesterday announced that the government aims to have offered every adult in the UK a vaccine by the end of July – 1 in 3 adults already have received a jab. New data suggests that vaccinations continue to remain effective against dominant strains in the UK – one dose of BioNtech/Pfizer has shown to reduce 75% of hospitalisations and death. While the Oxford/Astrazenca also demonstrates a good level of protection, not enough data is yet available to see the size of its effect.