SOCIAL distancing and wearing face masks could be scrapped by June, the new lockdown roadmap reveals.
The Government said it will complete a review into measures including the 1m-plus rule before June 21 – when all other restrictions are lifted.
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Social distancing could be scrapped by June, the new roadmap out of lockdown has revealedCredit: Alamy Live News
Boris Johnson laid out his four step plan to ease lockdown in a 68-page document today and expressed hope that life could return to normal by the summer.
It includes plans to review social distancing measures once more people have been vaccinated.
It comes as…
In the roadmap, the Government says: “Social distancing is difficult and damaging for businesses and, as a result, it is important to return to as near to normal as quickly as possible.
“Ahead of Step 4, as more is understood about the impact of vaccines on transmission and a far greater proportion of the population has been vaccinated, the Government will complete a review of social distancing measures and other long-term measures that have been put in place to limit transmission.
“The results of the review will help inform decisions on the timing and circumstances under which rules on 1m+, face masks and other measures may be lifted.
“The review will also inform guidance on working from home – people should continue to work from home where they can until this review is complete.”
But Mr Johnson revealed Brits may be able to hug their grandparents before this point.
Social distancing must stay in place in steps 1 and 2 of easing lockdown, he warned, but people may be allowed to make their own decisions on hugging friends and family under step 3 from May 17.
With the successful rollout of the Covid vaccine, the Government has said the public will be able to make informed personal decisions about social contact.
In the roadmap, Brits are told: “It will remain important for people to
consider the risks for themselves, taking into account whether they and those they meet have been vaccinated or are at greater risk.”
This means that someone who has been vaccinated might make the decision that they are comfortable hugging a pal who has also already been jabbed.
It is hoped the country’s 54 million adults will be offered a jab by the end of July.
The Prime Minister said his approach would be driven by “data not dates”, with a five-week gap between stages allowing time for the impact on infections to be determined and for companies to get ready.
It is understood a review will be conducted in the coming months, looking at whether social distancing measures including wearing masks and stay 2 metres apart will continue to be used.
The roadmap released today states: “The Government will continually review the evidence of vaccine efficacy, including its impact on transmission.
“As soon as possible, and no later than Step 3, the Government will update its advice on social distancing between friends and family, including hugging.
“Until then, people should continue to keep their distance from anyone not in their household or support bubble, and keep up habits such as regular hand washing and letting in fresh air.”
BACK TO NORMAL
The announcement is the first big step towards restoring normal life, nearly a year after the PM imposed the first of three stay-at-home orders.
Boris told MPs that with a mass vaccination programme across the country easing pressure on overstretched hospitals, “the end really is in sight”.
“A wretched year will give way to a spring and summer that will be very different and incomparably better than the picture we see around us today,” he added.
Boris acknowledged that scientific modelling suggested that lifting lockdown measures would increase Covid-19 cases and ultimately deaths but insisted the restrictions could not continue indefinitely.
In the first phase, all pupils in England’s schools are expected to return to class from March 8, with wider use of face masks and testing in secondaries.
Socialising in parks and public spaces with one other person will also be permitted from that date.
A further easing of restrictions will take place on March 29 when the school Easter holidays begin – with larger groups of up to six people or two households allowed to gather in parks and gardens.
Other measures announced in the lockdown roadmap includes:
Alongside the four-step plan, the Prime Minister launched a series of reviews – including on whether people should be able to show if they have had a Covid-19 vaccine or a negative test.
The work will look at whether “Covid status certification” could help reopen the economy by allowing people who have received a jab or a negative test result to do things which would not be allowed for those who could not prove their status.
Officials recognise that there are moral and ethical questions as well as practical ones for any such move, which has been highly controversial in Westminster.
A research programme will use pilot schemes involving testing and other measures to run events with larger crowd sizes.
International travel rules will also be reviewed, with May 17 targeted as the earliest possible date for a foreign holiday.
The measures are expected to be put to a Commons vote before the House rises for Easter in late March.