The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has confirmed this evening, England’s lockdown easing will continue as planned on April 12th.
Confirmation Step 2 of the roadmap would proceed came after the measures were agreed at a “Covid O” meeting and discussed on a Cabinet call earlier today (Monday).
When the Prime Minister set out the Roadmap in February he said four tests will be used to review the measures in place, those were:
- The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.
- Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
- Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
- Our assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.
The PM said in his Downing Street press conference that the country has managed to meet each of these tests sufficiently to go ahead with easing restrictions.
This means non-essential shops, hairdressers and gyms can reopen, and pubs and restaurants can start serving customers outdoors.
Overnight stays away from home in England will also be permitted and self-contained accommodation can also reopen, though must only be used by members of the same household or support bubble.
Public buildings such as libraries and community centres will also reopen.
The majority of outdoor settings and attractions can also reopen, including outdoor hospitality, zoos, theme parks, drive-in cinemas and drive-in performances events.
Hospitality venues will be able to open for outdoor service, with no requirement for a substantial meal to be served alongside alcohol, and no curfew. The requirement to eat and drink while seated will remain.
People should continue to work from home where they can, and minimise domestic travel where they can. International holidays are still illegal.
The number of care home visitors will also increase to two per resident, and all children will be able to attend any indoor children’s activity, including sport, regardless of circumstance.
Parent and child groups of up to 15 people (not counting children aged under five years old) can restart indoors.
Funerals can continue with up to 30 attendees. Weddings, outdoor receptions, and commemorative events including wakes will be able to take place with up to 15 attendees (in premises that are permitted to open).
The government is also publishing today an update on the 4 reviews established in the roadmap to determine what measures may be necessary from summer onwards.
A Covid-status certification system will be developed over the coming months which could allow higher-risk settings to be opened up more safely and with more participants. Over the coming months, a system will be developed which will take into account three factors: vaccination, a recent negative test, or natural immunity (determined on the basis of a positive test taken in the previous six months).
Events pilots will take place from mid-April to trial the system. All pilots are checking Covid status, initially this will be through testing alone but in later pilots vaccination and acquired immunity are expected to be alternative ways to demonstrate status.
However, Mr Johnson continued to urge caution, with no changes to social contact rules and many restrictions still in place. Outdoor gatherings must still be limited to 6 people or 2 households, and you must not socialise indoors with anyone you do not live with or have not formed a support bubble with.
He added that the efforts of the nation were “paying off” and he also said, he will “cautiously but irreversibly raise a glass” to the vaccine rollout and further easing of restrictions.