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New four-step plan to ease lockdown could see all legal limits on social contact lifted by 21 June


Shops, hairdressers, gyms and outdoor hospitality will reopen on 12 April in England if strict conditions are met, under plans being set out by the PM.


Up to six people from separate households could be able to meet in beer gardens from that date.


The new four-step plan to ease lockdown could see all legal limits on social contact lifted by 21 June.

It requires four tests on vaccines, infection rates and new coronavirus variants to be met at each stage.


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". But he warned there was "no credible route to a zero-Covid Britain nor indeed a zero-Covid world".


It comes as the first data on the UK's coronavirus vaccine rollout suggests it is having a spectacular impact on stopping serious illness.


Step-by-step

As part of the first step of the plan for easing lockdown in England:

  • From 8 March - All schools will open with outdoor after-school sports and activities allowed. Recreation in an outdoor public spaces - such as a park - will be allowed between two people, meaning they would be allowed to sit down for a coffee, drink or picnic

  • From 29 March - Outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households will be allowed. It is understood this will include gatherings in private gardens. Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis or basketball courts will reopen and organised adult and children’s sport, such as grassroots football will also return.

Secondary school pupils can access tests and will be required to wear face coverings in classrooms and shared spaces like corridors.

The second step from 12 April would see major parts of the economy permitted to reopen:

  • Non-essential retail opens, hairdressers and public buildings like libraries and museums

  • Outdoor settings like alcohol takeaways, beer gardens, zoos and theme parks

  • Indoor leisure like swimming pools and gyms

  • Self-contained holiday accommodation, such as self-catering lets and camp sites

But wider social contact rules will continue to apply in all settings - meaning no indoor mixing between different households will be allowed.

Mr Johnson confirmed the end of hospitality curfews - and requirements to eat a substantial meal alongside alcohol.


He said a review of international leisure travel restrictions would be announced by 12 April at the earliest.


Funerals continue with up to 30 people, and weddings with up to 15 guests.


The third step will come from 17 May - if the data allows - and will see the "rule of six" abolished for outdoor gatherings, replaced with a limit of 30 people:

  • Two households can mix indoors - with the rule of six applied in hospitality settings like pubs

  • Cinemas, hotels, performances and sporting events reopen - though social distancing remains

  • Up to 10,000 spectators can attend the very largest outdoor seated venues like football stadiums

Up to 30 people will be able to attend weddings, receptions, funerals and wakes.


Mr Johnson said this step would also "consider the potential role of Covid status certification" - which could refer to so-called "vaccine passports" - in helping indoor venues to reopen safely.

The fourth step from 21 June will potentially see all legal limits on social contact removed, with the final closed sectors of the economy reopened - such as nightclubs.


The government hopes that - from this date - restrictions on weddings and funerals will also be abolished.


There are four conditions for the lockdown easing as follows:


1 - Vaccine programme continues to go to plan.

2 - Evidence shows vaccines are reducing deaths and numbers requiring hospital treatment

3 - Infection rates do not risk surge in hospital submissions

4 - New variants do not change the risk of lifting restrictions


Mr Johnson will hold a Downing Street news conference at 19:00 GMT tonight 22nd February 2021.


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