After almost 2 months in lockdown 3, all of us are getting a little antsy! We’re all eager to know when life will have some sense of normality again. So here’s what we know so far about the pathway out of lockdown.
PM Boris Johnson addressed the House of Commons today, ahead of his press conference from Number 10 this evening (at 7 pm). In his address, he discussed the plan to take the country out of this third lockdown, and the reasoning behind all of the decisions.
First of all, the plan laid out below is conditional, it depends on the vaccine rollout hitting goals, the maintenance of a low hospitalisation and death rate, and a lack of new variants. The plan is split into 4 steps, each 5 weeks from one another, to allow 4 weeks to assess new data and a week’s warning for the nation.
Step 1: 8th March – 29th March
- From this date, schools will begin to reopen to all ages. School-run outdoor clubs will be permitted to restart.
- University courses that require practical training, on-site exams, or similar equipment will return
- Care home residents will be allowed one regular visitor
- 2 people can meet outside for recreation rather than just exercise (i.e a picnic, a trip to the local park)
- From this date – all being well – 2 families, or 6 people, can meet up outdoors
- Outdoor sports will be allowed to resume (i.e football, hockey, outdoor pools)
The reintroduction of the rule of 6 has been placed here to coincide with the Easter holidays. Over the Easter holidays, the government will assess whether universities can return to campus teaching in the following term.
Step 2: 12th April – 17th May
- Non-essential shops, hairdressers and gyms will open
- Pubs and restaurants will be able to serve people outside (with no curfew or scotch eggs)
- Zoos and theme parks will open
Step 3: 17th May – 21st June
- Rule of 6 will apply indoors too
- Pubs and restaurants will be able to open their doors (again, no curfew, no scotch eggs)
- Cinemas, theatres, concert halls will be able to open with some limits
Step 4: 21st June
- All legal limits lifted, with potential testing in large venues such as nightclubs and concert halls
In order for these dates to remain where they are, the vaccine programme must remain on target. This is currently expected to happen, following Scotland’s findings that the vaccines significantly reduce hospitalizations (by 85-94%). The number of cases must continue to stay low, in order to keep the NHS from being overwhelmed. These dates also depend on more difficult variants not appearing.
The vaccine is currently hitting its targets, with 15 million most at-risk people vaccinated on the 15th of February. The next target is for 32 million (the next at-risk category) to be vaccinated. This graph from Statista shows how vaccinations will go if the current rate is maintained.
The Prime Minister has said that these dates are not set in stone. He aims to never have to enter the country into another lockdown, and so is being as cautious s possible with taking us out of this one. As well as the targets being achieved, throughout the next few months, scientists and the government will be reviewing:
- How long social distancing and face masks need to continue
- International travel
- Covid safe certification for venues
- Safe return of major events
This is to ensure we are leaving lockdown as safely, but also as efficiently as possible.