PM’s roadmap out of England’s lockdown revealed

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set out his roadmap for lifting the current lockdown, in place since 5 January 2021, balancing continued caution with the need to restore freedoms and boost the economy.

Each step will be at least 5 weeks apart – 4 weeks for collection and analysis of data and 1 weeks’ notice of any changes. Therefore, the steps listed below are all subject to delay if evidence shows that new problems have arisen. The following tests will be considered between each stage:

  • the vaccine rollout’s continued success;
  • hospital admissions and deaths continue to fall;
  • pressure on the NHS does not reach unacceptable levels; and
  • the impact of any new/existing variants of the virus.

The four steps

Step one

There will be a focus on schools from 8 March 2021. Pupils in all schools and further education settings will return to face-to-face teaching with breakfast and after school clubs reopened together with sporting activities for children “where necessary to help parents to work”.

From 29 March 2021, tennis and basketball can resume and outdoor pools can reopen. People must still work from home if possible but there will no longer be a legal requirement to stay at home.

Step two

From 12 April 2021, if the four tests have been met, hairdressers, nail salons, non-essential retail, gyms, libraries, and holiday lets can re-open. Pubs and restaurant can open for outdoor service with no curfew and no requirement for alcohol to be accompanied a substantial meal.

Step three

No earlier than 17 May 2021, pubs and restaurants can resume serving indoors. Theatres, cinemas and concert halls will also reopen, as will some sports stadia (up to 10,000 people or a quarter of the stadium's capacity, whichever is the lowest).

Step four

Finally, and no earlier than 21 June 2021, the last set of restrictions will be lifted including on nightclubs.

Reviews

As well as the above measures, the Government will be carrying out a series of reviews to explore further ways of easing limits, as follows:

  • the first will examine how long we need to maintain social distancing and face coverings as well as informing guidance on working from home (which should continue wherever possible until this review is complete);
  • a second review will consider the resumption of international travel with a report by 12 April 2021 so that people can plan for the summer;
  • the third review will consider the potential role of “Covid-status certification” in helping venues to open safely; and
  • the fourth review will look at the safe return of major events.

Takeaway

This roadmap is good news for employers as they will now have some direction for the future of their business; however, this is dependent on how the pandemic progresses.

It is therefore crucial that employers not only plan for the future, with the above dates in mind, but also have consideration for the possibility that the roadmap may be extended.

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