The lockdown roadmap is in full swing, with groups of six people from different households now able to meet outside.
Pubs and restaurants can also open – outdoors for now – as can gyms, leisure centres and non-essential shops.
It’s been a long time coming and many of the rules, such as international travel restrictions, are set to stay in place for a while yet. But as Covid-19 cases are slowly declining in most areas, the next stage of lifting lockdown is on the horizon.
Lockdown roadmap: What’s the next stage of lifting lockdown?
- May 17th – Rule of 6 for household mixing indoors, outdoor gatherings and wedding restrictions lifted to 30 people maximum, staycations allowed and indoor entertainment such as bowling alleys and cinemas to reopen.
- June 21st – All legal limits on social contact lifted and a return to ‘normal’ life.
The first stage of the roadmap began on March 8, when schools reopened again. Shortly afterwards on March 29, the rule of six came into place for household mixing outside and outdoor sport was allowed again. On April 12, all non-essential shops, gyms, leisure centres and zoos reopened. Libraries, theme parks, hairdressers and beauticians also opened again at the same time. Restaurants, pubs and cafes also were allowed to serve customers in outside spaces.
All of the key dates and targets above for lifting lockdown are subject to change following the government’s ongoing review of infection rates and the efficacy of the vaccination program in the UK.
Read on for more information about the government’s roadmap out of lockdown and for more details on everything that will re-open and which rules will change on the key dates listed above.
What is the lockdown roadmap?
In February, PM Boris Johnson set out a “cautious but also irreversible” plan to lift the third lockdown in England. It was comprised of four stages, happening at least four weeks apart to allow for the data to catch up. This is what the lockdown roadmap looks like…
From March 8 (step one – part one ):
- All schools will open, with after-school activities and sports allowed.
- Two people from different households can meet in a public space. They will be allowed to sit down for a coffee, drink or picnic.
- Each care home resident in England will be allowed one regular visitor.
From March 29 (step one – part two):
- Outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households will be allowed. This includes gatherings in outdoors private spaces, such as gardens.
- Outdoor sports will return, such as tennis and golf.
- Organised adult and children’s sport, such as grassroots football, will return.
- Travel outside of local areas will be allowed, with ‘stay at home’ guidance scrapped.
- Those who are clinically vulnerable will be able to stop shielding at the end of March.
From April 12 (step two):
- Non-essential retail will be allowed to open again, including personal care services.
- Pubs and restaurants will open for outdoor service in beer gardens etc.
- Indoor leisure facilities, including gyms and swimming pools will open.
- Most outdoor settings will be open from this date, including zoos and drive-in cinemas.
- Public libraries and community centres will be able to reopen.
- An update on whether it’s safe to book a holiday abroad for the summer is shortly after this date.
From May 17 (step three):
- Most social contact rules will be lifted outdoors, meaning groups of people (max.30) can meet up from different households.
- Indoor mixing allowed for two households, up to six people.
- Pubs and restaurants will open for indoor service, with the rule of 6 or two households maximum.
- All other leisure facilities including cinemas, bowling alleys and children’s play areas will reopen.
- Hotels, hostels and overnight accommodation will be allowed to open again.
- Large events, including those that take places in concert halls and sports stadiums, will resume. These will be piloted with mass testing schemes.
From June 21 (step four):
- There will be no legal limits on social contact, meaning that groups of over 30 people will be able to meet either indoors or outside.
- All sectors not already open will be allowed to reopen again.
- Restrictions on large events will be completely lifted.
- All limits will be removed from weddings and other life events.
- Nightclubs could reopen.
While the first stage of lifting the lockdown has gone by without a hitch, the upcoming dates are still precautionary. They are the earliest chance for lockdown to lift and work in four steps. Each step has at least four weeks between them, with four criteria to be met in order to lift the lockdown further:
- The coronavirus vaccine programme must continue to go to plan.
- The evidence must continue to show that vaccines are sufficiently reducing the number of people dying with the virus or needing hospital treatment.
- Infection rates must not risk a huge surge in hospital admissions.
- New variants of Covid-19 must not fundamentally change the risk of lifting restrictions.
If these criteria are not met by the time the measures are due to be lifted then they will be delayed, the prime minister has said.
In his address to the House of Commons on February 22, Boris Johnson said that the government would be driven by “data not dates” to ensure that the way out of lockdown was “cautious but irreversible” and a “one way road to freedom”.
Labour leader Keir Starmer has previously said that he wanted Boris Johnson to learn the “lessons of the last two lockdowns”, as he took the country out of the restrictions “too quickly”. He also told LBC radio that businesses “desperately” needed more support in the latest lockdown, including an extension of the business rates relief and VAT cuts for the hospitality sector.
When will hairdressers reopen after lockdown?
Hairdressers have now reopened again, following the second stage of lockdown lifting on April 12 2021.
After the first lockdown back in March, hairdressers were the first personal care service to reopen on July 4. With extra PPE and social distancing measures, it was thought to be safer than other close contact personal care services. These other salons reopened later in July, following a review.
When will restaurants reopen?
As of April 12, restaurants in England are now open again for outdoor dining.
Boris Johnson has also said that hospitality venues will be able to open their indoor areas – with limited numbers of customers – no earlier than May 17.
When these are open again, there will still be rules in place, such as the rule of six or the two household rule to ensure that social distancing is still maintained. Customers must also remain seated and cannot order at the bar. However, there will be no need to order a substantial meal with any alcohol drinks and there will be no curfew on venues closing.
The PM said in the announcement, the “Scotch Egg debate will be over because there will be no requirement for alcohol to be accompanied by a substantial meal.”
When will driving tests resume?
According to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), driving tests can now go ahead again as ofApril 12 in England.
All practical and theory driving tests were suspended since the beginning of the year and then cancelled in late February, leaving millions of learners waiting for their tests to be rescheduled again.
What will the rules be for coming out of lockdown?
Social distancing and wearing masks inside are still going to be necessary over the next couple of months, even as we come out of lockdown. They drastically help to cut transmission of the virus, which is vital at this time as the virus is still circulating in the population and many people haven’t been vaccinated yet.
While lockdown is being lifted, you must:
- Wear face covering where social distancing is not possible, including on public transport and in supermarkets around the country. Some people also wear face masks outside when social distancing is difficult and secondary school pupils must wear a face mask in schools.
- Maintain a 2 metre distance from those you don’t live with or are not in your support bubble, even as the rules lift to allow people from different households to meet up indoors and outside.
- Even when the ‘stay at home’ rule is scrapped, people will still be told to ‘stay local’ and avoid unnecessary travel, including going by public transport where it’s not necessary.
These rules, which have been in place throughout all the lockdowns, are set to be reviewed in the coming months.
Will lockdown be extended?
The government has warned that if the four conditions for lifting lockdown are not met, then lockdown will be extended until the conditions are met. This is because, in the prime minister’s words, it takes four weeks to see the effects of the lockdown restrictions on the data.
Boris Johnson also acknowledged the threat of diverse Covid-19 variants and how they might impact the lockdown. He said that everyone “must remain alert” to the new threat and that the government “can’t rule out restrictions at a local or regional level if evidence suggests they are necessary to contain or prevent a new variant that escapes the vaccines.”
He added that the threat would be managed by increased PCR testing and enhanced contact tracing, but the “vaccination programme has dramatically changed the odds in our favour”.
How is Scotland coming out of lockdown?
Scotland lifted their ‘stay at home’ order on April 2, swapping to similar ‘stay local’ advice like England.
As part of the lockdown roadmap, restrictions were eased on April 5 to allow for 12 to 17 year olds to play sports together and more students to return to schools and colleges. The slow reopening of essential retail will start, beginning with click-and-collect services, larger homeware stores, garden centres and car showrooms.
Then the levels system, seen during the last lockdown in Scotland, will return. Mainland Scotland will move from a level 4 to a level 3, while the islands could move from a level 3 to a level 2. Other travel restrictions in Scotland are also expected to ease around this time.
Limited indoor hospitality venues could also open from this date, with food and non-alcohol drinks being served until 8pm. No more than four people from two households will be allowed to gather at these sites.
At the same time, more retail venues are expected to open. Driving lessons will be able to take place again in Scotland and indoor gyms will also be able to open their doors again.
Further restrictions are expected to be lifted after May 17 and sometime in early June.
What is the plan to lift lockdown in Wales?
The first phase of the lockdown roadmap in Wales began on March 22 when the ban on non-essential items from essential stores, such as supermarkets, was lifted. Garden centres were also able to reopen from this date.
Later that week, the ‘stay local’ requirement was scrapped and Wales moved into their level 3 tier. Self-contained accommodation opened, allowing for one element of the tourism sector to begin again. Outdoor children’s activities also resumed and some historic places and gardens, along with most libraries, also reopened.
A full return to schools was given the green light for April 12, along with a reopening of all shops. Close contact services, such as hairdressers and nail salons, could also resume business again.
The next step will come on April 22, when gyms and leisure centres will be able to reopen. Outdoor attractions and outdoor hospitality venues are also expected to be allow to open again. Weddings will be able to take place. Community centres can open again and organised activities, with a maximum of 30 people outdoors and 15 people indoors, will also be able to take place again.
What is the plan to lift lockdown in Northern Ireland?
From April 1, people from two households were once again allowed to meet for outdoor sporting activities in Northern Ireland. Up to six people from two different households now can meet in a garden or outdoor public space. Garden centres and plant nurseries were allowed to open again from this date as well for click-and-collect services only.
However, ministers in Northern Ireland have been reluctant to release dates for their lockdown roadmap, due to the uncertainty of the pandemic. A statement from the NI government reads, ‘It will require a minimum of three weeks to assess the impact of each significant relaxation before further decisions are made.
‘This means there will be a four-week cycle, and the next review will take place on 15 April.’