Behind the scenes

The three scenarios being drawn up by ministers for ending Covid lockdown

Plans are based on vaccine success and range from ‘optimistic’ to ‘pessimistic’

Government ministers are speeding ahead with potential roadmaps out of the ongoing lockdown as the UK celebrates hitting the target deadline for 15 million people to receive a first Covid vaccine dose.

With seven days to go until Boris Johnson unveils the official plan, ministers have “drawn up three broad scenarios for how unlockdown can proceed”, Politico’s London Playbook reports.

The speediest proposed easing of restrictions is based on an “optimistic outcome” in which the vaccine campaign is “extremely effective at stopping both serious disease and transmission”, the site continues. A “middling scenario” is based on the jabs having “a decent effect on illness and transmission”, while a “pessimistic scenario” would see the impact of the rollout being “less strong than hoped”.

According to The Times, the most most ambitious of the plans would “allow people to go away for self-catering breaks as soon as the Easter holidays”. However, concerns have already been raised that following this strategy “would lead to ‘big movements’ across the country and could increase the rate of infection”, the paper adds.

The Daily Mail strikes a more upbeat note, reporting that high-street shops “will be allowed to reopen within weeks if Covid infection rates keep dropping”, and that families may “be able to meet outside by Easter”.

The Telegraph’s sources appear to have outlined a similar time frame. The paper reports that “grandparents could be able to see their grandchildren again from as early as March” as part of “an exemption to the one-to-one outdoor meeting rule for children”.

“If grandparents had had the vaccine, that would be likely to be OK,” a government insider said. “Given that people will have immunity, that would be a fair assumption, but nothing has been decided.” 

As speculation continues to mount ahead of the prime minister’s lockdown easing announcement next week, Politico reports that another government source also “pleaded for caution and stressed that ministers had to wait for the data before any of the various proposals being looked at might become concrete”. 

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