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Boris Johnson has announced detailed plans for the unlocking of England amid the coronavirus vaccination programme. Here is the proposed timetable, in four stages, and other initiatives announced by Downing Street.
No 10 is 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 – 8 March
All pupils and college students return fully, with before- and after-school clubs opened. For a period, secondary school pupils and older will wear masks in classes.
People can meet one other person outside for, say, a coffee or picnic, not just for exercise. Children will still count towards this.
Step 1, part 2 – 29 March
Outdoor gatherings allowed of up to six people, or two households if this is larger, not just in parks but also gardens.
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.
Commons scrutiny and votes
For most of the rules the government will lay a statutory instrument, a form of legislation, before 8 March and it will be debated and voted on before the Easter recess.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Step by step: how England’s Covid lockdown will be lifted | Coronavirus