UNITED KINGDOM. London: In a press conference on Monday, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled the government’s map out of lockdown for England — “one-way road to freedom.”
The plan is a four-stage roadmap for the unlocking of England by summer.
No 1, the headquarters of the Government of the United Kingdom, stressed that, after each step, the subsequent stages of reopening could be subject to delay and that the program would be driven by “data, not dates.”
Boris Johnson took to Twitter and said, “Our decision 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.”
There is a minimum of five weeks between each stage: three weeks to gather data and information and a week for people and businesses to prepare for the next stage.
Boris Johnson has also highlighted that there will be no return to regional tiers, however, there could be localised efforts if a new variant is detected.
COVID-19 Roadmap: Step 1
The U.K. Prime Minister tweeted last night: “THREAD: The COVID-19 Roadmap for England: Step 1. 8 March-29 March.”
The first step will kick off on March 8 with the reopening of schools and colleges for all students. People will also be allowed to meet one another for coffee or a picnic.
By the end of March, outdoor sports and leisure facilities might be allowed to reopen, and up to 15 people, excluding children under 5 will be able to meet outdoors.
Also, the “rule of 6” will come back for outdoors social contact.
COVID-19 Roadmap: Step 2
PM Johnson tweeted, “COVID-19 Roadmap: Step 2. No earlier than 12 April (at least 5 weeks after Step 1).”
Unless data suggests a surge in cases, the second stage of the “one-way road to freedom” will start around 12 April.
In this phase, all retail, personal care businesses, libraries, community centres, gyms, outdoor hospitality and outdoor attractions will be allowed to reopen.
COVID-19 Roadmap: Step 3
The PM’s tweet read, “COVID-19 Roadmap: Step 3. No earlier than 17 May (at least 5 weeks after Step 2)”
The third phase is set to start at least 5 weeks after step 2; thus, no earlier than 17 May.
In this stage, indoor hospitality and activities will be allowed to reopen, however, social distance restrictions will still be in place. Only a maximum of 30 people will be allowed to gather outdoors, while indoors the rule of 6 remains.
Step 3 will also see a relaxation of restrictions on national and international travel.
Covid-19 Roadmap: Step 4
In another tweet, PM Johnson said, “COVID-19 Roadmap: Step 4. No earlier than 21 June (at least 5 weeks after Step 3).”
“118 days to freedom” — June 21 could be the day the remaining restrictions in place are lifted, with nightclubs reopening and there will be no legal limit on social gatherings.
The government is still evaluating if “COVID status certificates,” like vaccine or test passports should be used for traveling purposes.
Most of the rules in steps 3 and 4 are still under review and they will be agreed upon as things develop.
“It’s on all of us”
In an interview with Sky News on Tuesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that the government’s roadmap to lift restrictions will not speed up and it could even slow down, and the government must stay “vigilant.”
“It’s on all of us to make sure we can [ease the restrictions] by continuing to follow the rules between now and then as the vaccine rollout continues and as the really, really positive impact of those vaccines takes effect. This is on all of us,” Hancock added.