England’s third lockdown should hopefully be its last. More than 10 million people have now received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, and the Government hopes that everyone will have received the jab by the autumn.
However, we will not have to wait until everyone is vaccinated for restrictions to start being lifted.
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A gradual return to normal life is drawing ever closer, but the Government is yet to publish its road map for how and when rules will be relaxed.
When is the next lockdown review?
Boris Johnson has said he will set out a “route map” out of lockdown “in the week commencing 22 February”.
“By then we will know much more about the effect of vaccines, using data from the UK but also other nations like Israel,” he said on 27 January.
“We will also know how many people are in hospital with Covid – which we simply can’t predict today.
“So we will be in a better position to chart a course out of lockdown, without risking a further surge that will overwhelm the NHS.”
The Prime Minister said the UK will be in “a very different situation” to when the rules were relaxed last summer.
“This time as we go into the second half of the year we are going to have the confidence of knowing a huge proportion of the British public – particularly the most vulnerable – will have been vaccinated and probably have received a very high degree of immunity,” he said.
When will schools reopen?
Mr Johnson has targeted Monday 8 March as the earliest date pupils could start returning to school. They will go back in a phased system.
The reopening will depend on the success of the vaccination drive, which is currently on schedule.
Economic and social restrictions could begin to be eased “then or thereafter”, the Prime Minister said.
When will everything else come back?
The Government is yet to provide any dates for when other restrictions will be lifted.
Public Health England’s Dr Susan Hopkins has warned that measures must be relaxed “very slowly, very cautiously” to avoid another surge in infections.
“Any releases that we have will have to happen very slowly, very cautiously, watching and waiting as we go, with a two-week period to watch and see the impact of that relaxation because it takes that to see what’s happening in the population,” she told Andrew Marr on 31 January.
Reports have suggested that shops, pubs and restaurants could start to return in a staggered approach after Easter, which is on 4 April.
There may not be a full relaxation of the rules until all over-50s have had their vaccine, meaning the country could return to “normal” in early July.
However, even then some social distancing rules may have to remain in place, depending on how successful the vaccine is in reducing transmission.
“We need to see more data about transmission between people who have had the vaccine and others before we think about relaxing social distancing and guidelines for everybody,” Mr Johnson said on Wednesday.
“I think that really this is something we will start to think about a bit further down the line, about what potential is opened up by these vaccinations.”
What are the lockdown rules?
The lockdown is enshrined in law and police can take action if people leave home without a reasonable excuse.
- People must only leave the house for limited reasons, such as shopping for necessities such as food and medicine, providing care or voluntary aid, or medical reasons
- Exercise will be allowed – preferably limited to once a day – with members of your household or support bubble or one other person from another household
- People will be able to go to work if it is impossible to work from home, such as those in the construction sector or who are critical workers. All others must work from home
- All primary and secondary schools and colleges move to remote learning, except for the children of key workers or vulnerable children, but early years settings such as nurseries and childminders can stay open
- University students will not be allowed to return to campus and will be expected to study from home
- Places of worship can remain open for individual prayers and communal worship, but weddings and civil partnership ceremonies are allowed only in exceptional circumstances
- All non-essential shops, hairdressers and personal care salons must close, although supermarkets, pharmacies, off-licences, builders’ merchants and garden centres are among businesses which can stay open
- Restaurants and other hospitality venues can continue with delivery or takeaway (excluding alcohol) – cinemas, skating rinks and bowling alleys must remain closed
- Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable and who were previously told to shield should stay at home and only leave for medical appointments and exercise
- Visits to care homes can take place only with “substantial screens, visiting pods, or behind windows”
- Playgrounds can stay open but gyms (indoor and outdoor), tennis courts, swimming pools and golf courses must close, and outdoor team sports will not be permitted – although the Premier League and other elite sports can continue
- The buying and selling of houses can continue, but people should not ask others outside their support bubble to help them move
- Overnight stays outside support bubbles and holidays in the UK and abroad are not allowed, including staying in a second home or caravan
— to inews.co.uk