Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to set out his ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown in Parliament this afternoon after spending the weekend finalising the details.
The PM chaired a meeting of the COVID-S committee yesterday and the plan are expected to be signed off by cabinet this morning.
He will unveil his ‘roadmap’ in the House of Commons this afternoon, followed by a Downing Street press conference this evening.
Schools are expected to be the first to reopen on March 8th. Also, on the same date, two people will be able to meet in a public place, such as a park and they would be allowed to sit down for a coffee or a picnic.
Care home residents will be allowed indoor visitors again from March 8th.
From the end of March, the ‘rule of six’ is expected to return with outside gatherings of either two households or six people, some media reports suggest this will include gatherings in private gardens.
Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis or basketball courts will also reopen at the end of March and organised adult and children’s sport, such as grassroots football, is also expected to return.
More details about non-essential retail, hospitality and other areas of society are expected to be announced in the Prime Minister’s statement.
Speaking ahead of the announcement the Prime Minister said: “Today I’ll be setting out a roadmap to bring us out of lockdown cautiously. Our priority has always been getting children back into school which we know is crucial for their education as well as their mental and physical wellbeing, and we will also be prioritising ways for people to reunite with loved ones safely.
Our decisions will be made on the latest data at every step, and we will be cautious about this approach so that we do not undo the progress we have achieved so far and the sacrifices each and every one of you has made to keep yourself and others safe.
We have therefore set four key tests which must be met before we can move through each step of the plan.”
The roadmap will outline four steps for easing restrictions. Before proceeding to the next step, the government will examine the data to assess the impact of previous easements. This assessment will be based on four tests which are that:
- 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.
No10 say the four tests are currently being met so the first step will proceed from 8 March, at which point the top four priority cohorts for vaccinations – as determined by the independent JCVI – will have received a degree of immunity, three weeks after being offered their first dose.
Due to the current, relatively uniform spread of the virus across the country, restrictions will be eased step-by-step across the whole of England at the same time.
The roadmap seeks to balance between social and economic impacts, whilst preserving the health and safety of the country.
Outdoor settings are known to be lower risk than indoor, so outdoor activities will be opened earlier than indoor ones.
MPs will have an opportunity to vote on the regulations that will enable this roadmap in Parliament in the coming weeks.
We’ll bring you all the updates of the Prime Minister’s roadmap announcement below: