Prime minister Boris Johnson will publish the government’s roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions in England later today (February 22), as clear that coronavirus infections across the UK are declining sharply, the PM will set out his blueprint from lockdown.
He will address MPs shortly after 3pm and, four hours later, the nation in a press conference from Downing Street.
The Prime Minister will confirm that schools in England will fully reopen on 8 March and outdoor sports facilities will reopen three weeks later, with education and exercise at the head of the country’s exit strategy.
From March 8 Two people from different households will also be allowed to socialise in a park or other public outdoor space by having a coffee or picnic , activities not presently allowed under the outside exercise rule.
According to some report’s some sectors of hospitality could reopen in late April subject to outdoor facilities only, with pubs and restaurants could open indoors by mid-May.
Lockdown will be lifted in four steps, with the first step divided into two dates, on 8 and 29 March, and will be England-wide. There will be no return to the regional tiered system. This assessment will be based on four tests which are that:
- The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.
- Vaccines are effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths.
- Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations.
- The government’s assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants of concern.
The Prime Minister said: “Our priority has always been getting children back into school, which we know is crucial for their education as well as their mental and physical wellbeing, and we will also be prioritising ways for people to reunite with loved ones safely.
“Our decisions will be made on the latest data at every step, and we will be cautious about this approach so that we do not undo the progress we have achieved so far and the sacrifices each and every one of you has made to keep yourself and others safe.”
The Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA) has called for a clear roadmap for the night-time economy in particular, with many businesses closed since March last year.
Michael Kill, chief executive of the NTIA, said: “We urge the government to deliver a full and clear exit strategy roadmap, but more importantly to include businesses that will be one of the last sectors to open. It will be critical to their survival to be able to financially plan; more vital for them than the ones which have been continually presented as part of the short-term ongoing narrative.”