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PM to unveil 'cautious' plan to lift England's lockdown

February 22, 2021 12:58 pm

All schools in England are expected to reopen on 8 March as part of the prime minister’s “cautious” four-part plan to lift the coronavirus lockdown.

Boris Johnson will share his finalised “road map” with ministers on Monday, before unveiling it to MPs and then leading a news conference at 19:00 GMT.

It is understood that up to six people or two households could be allowed to meet outdoors from 29 March.

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Rules will be lifted in phases and four conditions must be met at each stage.

It is understood that the first phase will be split into two parts:

Phase one, part one (from 8 March)

  • All schools expected to open with outdoor after-school sports and activities allowed. Recreation in a public space – such as a park – could be allowed between two people, meaning they would be allowed to sit down for a coffee, drink or picnic

Phase one, part two (from 29 March)

  • Understood that outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households will be able to take place, including in private gardens. Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis or basketball courts could reopen and organised adult and children’s sport, such as grassroots football, could also return
    Also on 8 March, new rules will allow each care home resident in England to have one regular visitor, who they can hold hands with.

Mr Johnson said data will be used to inform “every step” of lifting restrictions.

“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,” he added.

The four conditions that must be met at each phase of lockdown easing are:

  1. The coronavirus vaccine programme continues to go to plan
  2. Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently reducing the number of people dying with the virus or needing hospital treatment
  3. Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospital admissions
  4. New variants of the virus do not fundamentally change the risk of lifting restrictions

Downing Street said the four tests are currently being met so the first step of lockdown easing in England will proceed as planned on 8 March.

The first stage of easing restrictions will be across the whole of England, Downing Street said, due to the current uniform spread of the virus.

MPs will be given the chance to vote on the regulations enabling England’s road map in the coming weeks.

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