Boris Johnson will make a speech tomorrow where he is expected to announce how things will gradually reopen from next month (Picture: AFP/EPA)
Over six weeks after England went into another national lockdown, we’re about to get a ‘roadmap’ of how the country will leave it.
Boris Johnson will make a speech tomorrow where he is expected to announce how things will gradually reopen from next month.
It’s understood that the initial steps will be for school pupils in all years to go back to the classroom from March 8, with outdoor after-school sports and activities allowed to restart as well.
Socialising in parks and public spaces with one other person will also be permitted in a fortnight when the rules are relaxed to allow people to sit down for a drink or picnic – at the moment, people are only allowed to meet up for exercise.
After this, the ‘rule of six’ will be reappearing on March 29 when the school Easter holidays begin – with larger groups allowed to gather in parks and gardens.
There will also be new measures allowing two households totalling more than six people to meet – giving greater flexibility for families and friends.
Boris Johnson is expected to hold a press conference tomorrow at 7pm (Picture: Getty)
Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts are also set to reopen at the end of next month.
And organised adult and children’s sport – including grassroots football – can return from March 29.
However, Number 10 insisted that the ‘stay at home’ message would remain in place despite the relaxation of some restrictions.
The measures form the first of four steps in the road map which the Prime Minister is set to outline in a statement to the Commons tomorrow afternoon.
He has stressed the need to relax restrictions in a ‘cautious’ manner, saying that the Government would make decisions based on the latest data at every step.
Ahead of his Commons address, Mr Johnson said: ‘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.’
Schools are set to return for in person teaching from March 8 (Picture: PA)
Ministers will assess the success of the vaccine rollout, evidence of vaccine efficacy, new variants and infection rates before proceeding to the next step.
The tests are currently being met, Downing Street said, allowing the first relaxation to take place on March 8.
Restrictions will be relaxed step-by-step across the whole of England at the same time, Downing Street confirmed, due to the current uniform spread of the virus.
Number 10 said the road map would seek to balance the health needs with the social and economic impacts of lockdown.
For example, outdoor activities are set to be opened earlier than indoor ones, due to the reduced risk of spreading coronavirus outside.
MPs will be given the chance to vote on the regulations enabling the road map in the coming weeks.
Mr Johnson will chair a virtual meeting of his Cabinet on Monday morning to discuss the plan, and then unveil the details to Parliament in the afternoon.
He is expected to host a Downing Street press conference at 7pm tomorrow alongside key advisers.
The road map will also contain previously announced plans for care home residents to hold hands with a nominated loved one from March 8.
And it will include the Government’s new target to offer vaccines to all adults by the end of July – as well as those aged over 50, and higher risk groups, by April 15.
The road map will pave the way for the first easing of restrictions since England’s third national lockdown was announced on January 4.
Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].
For more stories like this, check our news page.