Getting to grips with . . .

Timeline: the UK’s roadmap out of lockdown

Boris Johnson reveals long-awaited route out of the country’s third shutdown

Boris Johnson has triggered both joy and dismay with his newly unveiled timeline for lifting the UK’s third Covid lockdown.

The prime minister told a Downing Street press conference last night that the UK is on “a one-way road to freedom”, with the country’s speedy vaccine rollout creating a “shield” that has “shifted the odds in our favour”.

But “we must be humble in the face of nature”, he added, “and we must be cautious” about lifting the restrictions too quickly - a verdict that has infuriated Tory backbenchers pushing for a swifting end to the lockdown.

1

Key dates

8 March:

Schools and colleges to reopen to students. Recreational activities such as picnics permitted outside with own household or one other person, but restrictions on international travel to continue and holidays not permitted reason to travel. Funerals capped at 30 people, with weddings and wakes capped at six. 

29 March: 

No more than six people or two full households allowed to meet outdoors, although organised sport permitted outside. Guidance remains to “minimise travel”.

12 April: 

All retail allowed to reopen. Gyms also allowed to reopen, though only for individuals working out alone. All children’s activities open and outdoor hospitality may resume. Domestic overnight stays allowed but must be restricted to single households.

17 May: 

Maximum of 30 people allowed to meet up outside. Indoors, “rule of six” applies or two households allowed to mix. Indoor hospitality also to reopen, along with indoor entertainment and attractions, and indoor sport permitted. International travel to be allowed (subject to review). 

Events celebrating “significant life events” allowed with up to 30 guests, indoor events extend to 1,000 people or 50% capacity, outdoor seated events 10,000 or 25% capacity, and other outdoor events 4,000 or 50% capacity.

21 June:

Legal limits on social contact ends. All businesses (including nightclubs) may reopen, international travel permitted, and no caps on celebrations and large events.

2

The details

Before taking each step of the lockdown roadmap, the government will review infection data, as well as ensuring that:

  • the vaccine deployment is continuing successfully
  • evidence continues to indicate that vaccines are successfully lowering deaths and hospitalisations
  • infection rates do not threaten to overwhelm the NHS
  • new variants of the virus have not changed the risk to the public.

3

Reaction

Johnson said yesterday that “we cannot persist indefinitely with restrictions that have separated families and loved ones for too long, threatened the livelihoods of millions, kept pupils out of school”.

“Thanks to the vaccinations there is light ahead, leading us to a spring and a summer, which I think will be seasons of hope, looking and feeling incomparably better for us all,” he added.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told BBC Breakfast this morning that it was “vital” that “everybody plays their part to make sure that we hit these dates and get out of this as soon as we possibly can, safely.”

However, Johnson’s plan has “faced criticism” from some Conservative MPs, notes the BBC’s political correspondent Iain Watson. “What annoyed some MPs was an apparent lack of flexibility in the plan with restrictions not being lifted ‘before’ certain dates.”

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