The government’s test to move to the next stage of the COVID roadmap has been met, meaning further lockdown restrictions will be eased from Monday 12th April 2021, Boris Johnson confirmed in a live Downing Street press conference last night.
From next Monday, outdoor hospitality can re-open, along with significant parts of the indoor economy including non-essential retail, personal care premises such as barbers, hairdressers and nail salons, and public buildings including libraries and community centres.
The announcement comes after a day of discussions with the “Covid-O” group of senior ministers and scientific advisors and members of the Cabinet.
The first stage of the government’s roadmap began when schools reopened on 8 March.
Mr Johnson confirmed that as coronavirus cases and deaths continue to fall, the government is satisfied to move onto the next stage of the roadmap to unlock the country.
The decision on this next stage of easing was based on four tests:
- The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.
- Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
- Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
- The risks are not fundamentally changed by new Covid variants.
Changes to England’s lockdown from 12 April include:
- Hospitality venues can re-open outside only, with customers must order, eat and drink seated outside and be in groups of no more than six or two households.
- Indoor leisure facilities such as gyms will reopen for use by people on their own or in household groups.
- Most outdoor attractions like zoos, theme parks, and drive-in performance events and drive-in cinemas will reopen for use by people on their own or in household groups.
- Spas can reopen, although saunas and steam rooms must remain closed.
- Self-contained accommodation such as campsites and holiday lets can reopen for members of the same household, but hotels and places where guests share facilities with other households, must wait until the next step on the roadmap on 17 May.
- Public buildings such as libraries and community centres will also reopen.
- Close-contact personal services such as beauty and nail salons can reopen.
- Weddings, receptions and commemorative events such as wakes can be attended by up to 15 people.
- The number of care home visitors will increase to two per resident
The government is still calling on people to work from home where they can, and to minimise domestic travel. International holidays are still not allowed.
No room for complacency
The PM stressed in his statement that there is no room for complacency and people should continue to adhere to all restrictions and rules that remain in place, such as social distancing, wearing face coverings and washing or sanitising hands regularly.
Should the data support further easing, the next stage could see further restrictions lifted after 17 May 2021.
At the briefing, Mr Johnson also said officials are considering the potential role of Covid status certificates. Pilot events will take place from mid-April to trial the system, with later events checking vaccinations.