The plan for the country to be eased out of lockdown has been announced as a series of sequential steps.
The announcement, which came from the Prime Minister yesterday, 22 February, detailed the initial steps that would see restrictions eased, with further milestones plotted for the following months. There are no plans to move back to tiered restrictions.
What changes are expected, and when?
- From 8 March: all schools and colleges will open, with outdoor school activities and sports permitted. Outdoor recreational meetings between two people will be allowed, meaning they can go out for a coffee as long as they remain socially distanced, for example. Care home residents will also be allowed one regular visitor. Weddings and wakes for six people and funerals for 30 people will be permitted, but apart from these exceptions the ‘stay at home’ order remains in place
- From 29 March: The ‘rule of six’ or two households will be allowed to meet socially-distanced outdoors, including in private gardens, but no indoor mixing will be allowed. Outdoor sport and leisure, such as tennis and golf, will be allowed.
- From 12 April: non-essential retail, hairdressers and nail salons, public buildings, gyms, self-contained holiday accommodation, campsites and outdoor settings including outdoor hospitality/pub gardens, zoos and theme parks are expected to open. Weddings, receptions and wakes for up to 15 guests and funerals for 30 guests are also expected to be permitted.
- From 17 May: most legal restrictions on meeting others outdoors are expected to be lifted, although gatherings of over 30 people will illegal. The ‘rule of six’ or two households will apply for gathering indoors but will be kept under review. Most businesses in all but the highest risk sectors will be able to reopen but with COVID-secure guidance in place. Indoor hospitality will reopen, but venues will have to continue table service. Other indoor locations including entertainment venues and hotels are also expected to open. Up to 30 people will be allowed at most significant life events including weddings, receptions and wakes.
- No earlier than 21 June: all restrictions on social contact will hopefully be lifted following a national review of social distancing and other long-term measures which have been put in place to reduce transmission.
The four key tests for easing restrictions
The dates for restrictions being eased are predicated on passing four key tests at each stage and are therefore not confirmed with absolutely certainty. The four tests are that:
- the vaccine programme continues to be successfully deployed
- the vaccine remains effective against the virus
- infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations or put unsustainable pressure on the NHS
- a national assessment of the risks does not worsen
‘Stay at home’ remains the priority
Leader of the Council, Cllr Russ Bowden, said: “The roadmap out of lockdown is clear, but please remain cautious as the dates could change if the data suggests that we are in a declining position.
“We cannot afford to endanger all of the hard work and sacrifices our communities have made for the best part of a year, so for now, please stick to the rules and stay at home. We have continued to show as a town how resilient we are in the face of adversity and I know we will keep doing all we can to follow the rules in place. Every day we stay at home is another day closer to things getting back to normal.
“I am very grateful for the efforts of our residents to bring coronavirus rates in Warrington down. If we follow the current restrictions, get tested if we have any coronavirus symptoms and take up the vaccine when offered it, there is no reason why we won’t be able to see the restrictions ease over the coming months ahead.”