04:26PM, Monday 22 February 2021
The Prime Minister has announced he will ‘cautiously but irreversibly’ lift lockdown restriction starting next month, with schools the first to reopen.
Speaking in the House of Commons this afternoon (Monday), Boris Johnson outlined the ‘four steps’ that will see more and more restrictions dropped up until June 21 when, if things go to plan, virtually all limitations will be lifted.
Starting on March 8, schools in England will reopen for all students to do face to face learning. Further Education institutions will also be able to open again.
People will also be able to meet one other person outdoors without needing to do exercise, but those who are clinically extremely vulnerable will need to shield until the end of the month.
On March 29, the rule of six will be reintroduced for outdoor meetups, so up to six people from two different households will be able to get together.
Outdoor sports facilities like tennis courts and outdoor pools will reopen, and grassroots sports will be able to resume.
The second stage of removing restrictions will take place from April 12 at the earliest, permitting non-essential businesses to reopen, including hairdressers and nail salons.
Pubs and restaurants will also be able to open with outdoor seating only, and there will be no curfew like in previous lockdowns. Libraries and community centres will also be able to reopen to all.
From May 17, stage three will see outdoor meet-ups with up to 30 people permitted, and the rule of six will be extended to indoor get-togethers too.
Pubs and restaurants can open indoors, and cinemas, theatres and sports stadiums will be able to reopen.
The final stage is expected to begin on June 21, when all legal limits on social contact will be removed and night clubs will be able to re-open.
The rollout of this roadmap will be reliant on four conditions: that the vaccine continues to be successfully delivered, the vaccines continue to be effective, hospitals do not see a surge in infection rates, and infection rates are not severely affected by the emergence of a new virus variant.
The Prime Minister said: "I know there will be many people who will be worried that we are being too ambitious and that it is arrogant to impose any kind of plan upon a virus. I agree that we must always be humble in the face of nature.
“There will be others who believe that we could go faster, and I understand their feelings.
“But to them I say that today the end really is in sight, and a wretched year will give way to as a spring and a summer that is very different and incomparably better than the picture we see around us today.”