From 8 March, people in England will see restrictions start to lift and the government’s four-step roadmap offer a route back to a more normal life.
At each step, restrictions will be lifted across the whole of England at the same time. There will be a minimum of five weeks between each step, and the government will be guided by data to avoid a surge in infections, hospitalisations, and deaths. This lifting of restrictions requires four tests on vaccines, infection rates and new coronavirus variants to be met at each stage.
- All schools and colleges will open, with outdoor after-school sports and activities allowed to take place. Childcare will resume.
- Recreation or exercise outdoors will be allowed between two people.
- Care home residents will be allowed one regular visitor.
- During this time, we must continue to stay at home and no household mixing is permitted.
- Outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households will be allowed, including in private gardens.
- Outdoor sport and leisure facilities such as tennis courts will reopen, and organised outdoor sport will return for both adults and children.
- Non-essential retail will reopen, along with hairdressers, community centres, and libraries.
- Indoor leisure (including gyms) will reopen for individual or household use.
- Outdoor settings including hospitality, zoos and theme parks will reopen.
- Self-contained holiday accommodation such as holiday lets and campsites will reopen to individual households.
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 the previous step. 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.
It takes around four weeks for the data to reflect the impact of the previous step and the Government will provide a further weeks’ notice to individuals and businesses before making changes. The roadmap therefore sets out indicative, “no earlier than” dates for the steps which are five weeks apart. These dates are wholly contingent on the data and are subject to change if the four tests are not met.
Check with your local place of worship for the latest advice.
A summary of the roadmap, including details of steps 3 and 4, is available on Twitter. You can view the full roadmap on the government website, and you can also watch the Prime Minister’s address to the nation on YouTube.