Boris Johnson has announced the government’s roadmap to ease lockdown restrictions in England with shops, hairdressers, gyms and outdoor hospitality set to reopen on 12 April if strict conditions are met.
The roadmap, which has now been published on gov.uk, outlines four steps for easing restrictions and means we could see all legal limits on social contact lifted by 21 June – this would certainly be welcome news for the hard-hit hospitality sector. Before proceeding to the next step, the Government will examine the data to assess the impact of previous steps. Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs the plan aimed to be “cautious but irreversible” and at every stage decisions would be led by “data not dates”.
Step one involves reopening schools from 8th March and outdoor gatherings of six people or two households being allowed from 29th March. Outdoor sports facilities will also reopen with organised sport and travel outside local area being permitted.
Step two, which will come into action no earlier than 12th April, will see the reopening of non-essential retail, hairdressers and some public buildings like libraries. Beer gardens, zoos and theme parks will also be reopened, along with indoor leisure facilities like swimming pools and gyms. Drive-in cinemas and drive-in performances will also be permitted.
Step three will have the biggest impact on hospitality and will come into effect no earlier than 17th May. The following changes will apply:
- Outdoors, most social contact rules will be lifted (gatherings of over 30 people will remain illegal however), and outdoor performances such as outdoor cinemas and outdoor theatres can reopen.
- Indoor entertainment venues, pubs and restaurants will also reopen (the rule of 6 or 2 households will apply, although this may be reviewed)
- Larger performances and sporting events in indoor venues with a capacity of 1,000 people or half-full (whichever is lower) will also be allowed, as will those in outdoor venues with a capacity of 4000 people or half-full (whichever is lower).
- In the largest outdoor seated venues where crowds can spread out, up to 10,000 people will be able to attend (or a quarter-full, whichever is lower).
Step four, no earlier than 21 June will see all legal limits on social contact removed. This will mean that nightclubs, large events and performances can all operate as normal. A decision will be made at this point on whether all limits can be removed on weddings and other life events.
A full list of the changes and the associated assessments that will be involved can be viewed on the Government website here.
Boris Johnson said “spring is on its way, both literally and metaphorically, but we’re not going to be buccaneering with people’s lives”, and reopening nightclubs by June 21 shows the “miracle that the vaccine has delivered”.
“People would rather trade some haste for certainty and security about the deadlines that we’re setting.”
This is some much needed information from the Government and a welcomed light at the end of the tunnel. What do you think of the roadmap, do you think the dates are a realistic target or do you envisage further delays to reopening? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below.