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England has proceeded to the next step of the UK government’s plan for easing the Covid restrictions imposed at the beginning of January, with “rule of six” meetings permitted in the open air, and group outdoor sporting activities for adults and children allowed to resume.
The proposed timetable outlined four steps along the way to a full re-opening, with the government stressing that after the first step the subsequent stages of reopening could be subject to delay and that the programme would be guided by “data rather than dates”.
There is a minimum of five weeks between each stage – four weeks to collect and assess data and then a week for people and businesses to prepare for the next step.
All the changes will be England-wide with no return to regional tiers. The only exception could be localised efforts if a new variant of the virus is detected, for example additional testing.
Step 1, part 1 which took effect on 8 March
Step 1, part 2 which took effect on 29 March
Outdoor gatherings allowed of up to six people, or two households if this is larger, not just in parks but also gardens.
The official stay at home order ends, but people will be encouraged to stay local. However, the definition of “local” will largely be left to people’s discretion.
Step 2 – no earlier than 12 April
Also reopening will be settings such as zoos and theme parks. However, social contact rules will apply here, so no indoor mixing between households and limits on outdoor mixing.
Funerals can have up to 30 attendees, while weddings, receptions and wakes can have 15.
While it is not part of step 2, this is the earliest point after which the bulk of university students could know about the resumption of face-to-face classes. A review of this will take place at the end of the Easter holidays.
Step 3 – no earlier than 17 May
Indoor mixing will be allowed, up to six people or, if it is more people, two households.
Indoor venues such as the inside of pubs and restaurants, hotels and B&Bs, play centres, cinemas, museums and group exercise classes will reopen. The new indoor and outdoor mixing limits will remain for pubs and other hospitality venues.
For sport, indoor venues can have up to 1,000 spectators or half capacity, whichever is lower; outdoors the limit will be 4,000 people or half capacity, whichever is lower. Very large outdoor seated venues, such as big football stadiums, where crowds can be spread out, will have a limit of 10,000 people, or a quarter full, whichever is fewer.
Step 4 – no earlier than 21 June
All legal limits removed on mixing will be removed and the last sectors to remain closed, such as nightclubs, will reopen. Large events can take place.
Four reviews taking place within the unlocking process
A Department for Transport review into how to allow more inbound and outbound travel as soon as possible, given worries over new variants of Covid. It will report on 12 April, but international travel will not resume before 17 May at the earliest.
A review of social distancing, for example the 1 metre-plus rule, and on masks and working from home. This will conclude before step 4.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Step by step: England’s roadmap for easing Covid lockdown | UK news