All being well, Johnson’s government is hopeful that most of the economy will be able to open before the end of June. As he announced the plan on Monday, the Prime Minister stressed that the four steps would be decided by “data not dates,” and emphasized that they would be subject to change. Downing Street officials were keen to explain that this caution was in order to avoid future restrictions that would further damage the economy.
“There is … no credible route to a Zero Covid Britain or indeed a Zero Covid World and we cannot persist indefinitely with restrictions that debilitate our economy, our physical and mental well-being, and the life chances of our children,” Johnson said. “This roadmap should be cautious but also irreversible.”
Johnson told lawmakers that step one would begin on March 8, as schools finally reopen across England, as well as the return of limited outdoor social interaction, such as sitting on a park bench with one other person. Step one will also have a second phase on March 29, where further restrictions will be lifted, allowing groups of six to meet outside and two households to mix.
The lifting of measures will take place with a minimum five-week gap, the Prime Minister said, allowing four weeks for the government to gather the appropriate data and one week to alert the public and sectors involved.
The speed at which England will exit lockdown will be set against four key tests: how the vaccine rollout is going; how vaccines are affecting hospitalizations and deaths; that infection rates are staying low; and that new variants not undermining the other three criteria.
Step two, which would happen no earlier than April 12, will see the return of non-essential retail, such as hairdressers, gyms, museums, zoos and theme parks. Social contact rules will remain in place for indoor activities, meaning that they can only be attended by the members of own household.
Step three, which will be in place no sooner than May 17, will remove most social distancing rules. Groups of up to 30 will be able to meet outdoors in a public space or private garden. Pubs and restaurants will be allowed to serve indoors, though the rule of six will apply. Indoor entertainment will also be allowed to resume, with venues allowed to host up to 1,000 people. Spectators will be allowed to return to live outdoor sports, with up to 10,000 allowed to attend the largest venues, such as Wembley Stadium.
Finally, step four, which will happen no sooner than June 12, will see the removal of most social restrictions and the return of nightclubs. Personal life events like weddings will have no limitations if things go well. In the weeks and months leading up to step four, the government will carry out reviews on large outdoor events, such as music festivals.
The government will look at controversial measures such as Covid certification…