Yesterday evening, 22 January 2021, the government revealed the four-step roadmap for lifting lockdown restrictions in England. The plan covered the next few months. The first step begins on 8 March and the last step will take place no earlier than 21 June.
What is the Four-step Roadmap?
The four-step roadmap for lifting lockdown is a provisional plan that dates the easing of lockdown restrictions from March to June. The government will examine each step against four criteria before they ease restrictions.
- The vaccine programme and its continuing success.
- Evidence showing the vaccine is working in reducing hospitalisations and deaths for those with the vaccine
- Ensuring infection rates do not surge leading to overwhelming pressure on the NHS
- New variants of concern won’t change the fundamental purpose of the risk assessment
Step one includes two parts. The first part will happen on 8 March and will apply the following easing of restrictions to England’s lockdown:
- Schools will reopen and pupils will return to face to face education.
- Wraparound childcare such as breakfast clubs and after-school clubs can reopen.
- You can spend time in outdoor public places on your own, with your household or support bubble or with one other person outside of your bubble. Social distancing must continue.
- University students on practical courses can return to university for face-to-face teaching and the use of essential facilities for their practical course.
- International travel restrictions will continue – holidays are not a permitted reason to travel. Those leaving the UK must complete an outbound declarations travel form before they depart from the country.
- Care home rules will change. It will allow a single nominated visitor to have regular visits. It will require a lateral flow test and minimal physical contact.
- Restrictions requiring you to stay at home remain.
Part two of Step one is from 29 March:
- The Rule of Six will return. People can meet outside with either one other household or within the ‘rule of six’. It includes private gardens.
- The ‘Stay at Home’ rule will end. The government encourages people to stay local.
- Outdoor sports can begin, including outdoor sports facilities such as golf course, tennis courts etc.
- Outdoors parent and children groups can return – capped at 15 people.
Step Two – No earlier than 12 April
- Shops will reopen
- Restaurants and pubs can serve customers sitting outdoors. It includes the serving of alcohol.
- Gyms can reopen
- ‘Close contact services’ such as Beauty salons, hairdressers can resume business.
- Domestic holidays can take place – one household and in self-contained accommodation only.
- Zoo, theme parks, drive-in cinemas, libraries, community centres can reopen.
Stage Three – No earlier than 17 May
- People can meet in groups of up to 30 outdoors.
- Two households or the rule of six can meet indoors.
- Hospitality venues such as pubs and restaurants can serve customers indoors.
- Indoor entertainment venues can reopen. This includes museums, theatres, cinemas, children play areas.
- Hospitality services such as hotels, hostels can resume business.
- Large events can take place but numbers will be limited. For examples, indoor events need to be at half capacity with a maximum of 1000 people. Outdoors evens can take place as long as they are half capacity with a maximum of 4000 people. Whichever number is lower should be their limit. Large venues with at least 40,000 capacity will be allowed a maximum of 10,000 people to attend.
- International travel for leisure and holidays will resume no earlier than 17 May.
- Indoor sports groups and exercise classes can resume.
Stage Four – No earlier than 21 June
- If all other steps go to plan and step four passes the assessment, it will see all legal limits on social contact will be removed.
- No limits to the numbers of people in venues.
- Nightclubs to reopen
The steps of lifting lockdown restrictions are dependent on them passing the government’s four points of assessment. Prime Minister, Boris Johnson emphasising that when it comes to evaluating each stage, decisions will be made on the data rather than dates set out
The vaccination programme continues with the government’s new target to offer the vaccine to all adults (18+) in the UK by the end of July 2021.
“Light at the end of the tunnel.”
In response to the government’s roadmap for lifting lockdown Councillor Shabir Pandor, Leader of Kirklees Council commented:
“The Government has set out a clear roadmap that means we are moving towards some kind of normality. I am confident that everyone in Kirklees will do their bit to ensure we keep infection rates down with a view to getting further restrictions lifted in the coming weeks. I think the way our residents have come together is remarkable and once again I would like to thank each and everyone for doing their bit.
“We have to do everything we can to get young people back into school as quickly and safely as possible. We also need to be mindful of the impact lockdown has had on people’s physical and mental wellbeing. It’s paramount that we give priority to this and get restrictions lifted and places opened that have a positive impact on physical and mental health.
“I also want to thank our local NHS and partner organisations for continuing to deliver the vaccination programme in Kirklees which will play such a vital part in following the roadmap.
“But we need to remember how quickly infection rates can increase. Alongside the rollout of the vaccine, the roadmap relies on every one of us continue to do everything we can to keep ourselves and others safe. Please continue to follow all of the restrictions and always remember the basics such as social-distancing, hand-washing and wearing a face covering.
“We are not there yet, but we are heading in the right direction. If we all continue to play our part, we will gradually see more and more restrictions removed and move towards some kind of normality in the near future. Thank you for all of the sacrifices you are all making. We still have a long way to go but there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
West Yorkshire Prepared Urges Caution
West Yorkshire Prepared (WYP) – a local resilience forum for the West Yorkshire region – released a statement following the Prime Minister’s roadmap for lifting lockdown announcement. They are urging everyone to continue their concerted effort in helping to prevent the spread of infection, to protect each other and to continue with caution.
The local resilience forum is reminding people that while some restrictions are being eased in March, social distancing and lockdown restrictions still apply. Additionally, West Yorkshire is still experiencing higher than averages rates of infection. So, it remains vital to continue protecting each other and minimizing the risk.
Robin Tuddenham, co-Chair of West Yorkshire Prepared and Chief Executive of Calderdale Council, said: “While recognising there may be some disappointment that more restrictions haven’t yet been eased, we appreciate the cautious approach the Government is taking in this first phase. Infection rates in West Yorkshire still remain very high compared to the rest of the country, so we need to continue doing all we can to keep individuals and communities safe and help to reduce the spread of the virus. As the Prime Minister stated, local restrictions could be reintroduced in the future if infection rates start to increase again, so we must not become complacent.”
In addition, Dave Walton, co-Chair of West Yorkshire Prepared and Deputy Chief Fire Officer of West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, added: “Our priority continues to be the safety of our region – whether that’s in schools, workplaces, communities or on public transport. Everyone in West Yorkshire has put a huge effort into reducing infection rates and keeping each other safe throughout this pandemic, and we must ensure this continues if we have any hope of returning to some kind of normality.”
You can access more information on the government’s roadmap for lifting lockdown on the government’s website here.