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What did Boris Johnson say in his lockdown speech and what will the roadmap look like?

11 March 2021

oris Johnson made his long-awaited speech to Parliament on Monday, with the Prime Minister setting out his “irreversible” road map out of lockdown.

Speaking later at a Downing Street briefing, he said "there is light ahead" as a result of the vaccination programme, adding that it was time for the jabs to start replacing curbs on liberty as a way of protecting against Covid-19.

"We cannot persist indefinitely with restrictions that have separated families and loved ones for too long, threatened the livelihoods of millions, kept pupils out of school," he said.

"Thanks to the vaccinations there is light ahead, leading us to a spring and a summer, which I think will be seasons of hope, looking and feeling incomparably better for us all."

How did Monday play out?

After looking at data on coronavirus deaths, cases, hospital admissions and the effect of the vaccine rollout over the past week, Boris Johnson convened a virtual meeting of his Cabinet on Monday morning to discuss the road map plan.

Just after 3.30pm, the Prime Minister made a statement to Parliament, and later hosted a televised press conference, which took place around 7pm.

The road map, which covers the next four months, is being published on the Government’s website.

What form has the lockdown road map taken?

Ministers have emphasised that the Government is taking a cautious approach to easing restrictions.

Changes will be rolled out in four steps. Before each new stage, the Government will look at the Covid-related data to assess what impact each easing has had.

Mr Johnson said in his statement to parliament “a wretched year would give way to a spring and a summer that will be very different and incomparably better".

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi had earlier confirmed that there would be no return to regional tiers and all parts of England will relax restrictions at the same pace.

So what will reopen first in England?

The Government has always said it would be prioritising the reopening of schools.

Mr Johnson announced that, as an initial part of the first step of easing restrictions, all schools will be open from March 8, while outdoors after-school sports and activities can also restart.

When will we be able to see friends and family again?

Care home residents will be allowed a single visitor, with visitors required to take a lateral flow test and wear personal protective equipment.

How about getting together in groups?

From March 29, more social contact will be permitted, with outdoor gatherings in parks and gardens allowed either under the rule of six or between two households.

This means groups of a maximum of six people from multiple households can get together outside, with a greater number allowed if the meet-up is between two households only.

The rule change is timed to coincide with the start of school holidays, allowing friends and families greater flexibility to meet outside where the risk of Covid transmission is lower.

Are any other changes expected?

Yes, from March 29, outdoor sports facilities - for example, tennis or basketball courts - will reopen.

What will happen in future steps in the road map?

From April 12 at the earliest, shops, hairdressers, nail salons, libraries, outdoor attractions will reopen.

Hospitality venues will be permitted to reopen but for outdoor purposes only, meaning restaurants and pubs will only be able to serve customers outside, where the rule of six or two households will apply.

The requirement for a substantial meal and curfews will both be scrapped, but customers will need to be seated when ordering food or drink.

Self-contained accommodation, such as campsites and holiday lets, where indoor facilities are not shared with other households, will also be able to reopen for overnight stays by households only.

Funerals will be able to continue with up to 30 people, while the number of people who can attend wedding receptions and wakes will rise from the current six to 15.

From May 17 at the earliest, two households or groups of up to six people will be allowed to mix indoors and limited crowds will be allowed at sporting events. Gatherings of more than 30 people in parks and gardens will remain illegal.

Meanwhile, up to six people or a larger group from up to two households could be permitted to meet indoors, but this is subject to review.

Indoor hospitality – inside pubs and restaurants – is set to open up at this point, where the rule of six or two household rule will apply, alongside entertainment venues such as cinemas and children’s play areas.

Larger performances and sporting events in indoor venues, with a capacity of 1,000 people or half-full, whichever is lower, will be allowed, while outdoors it will be 4,000 people or half-full, again whichever is lower.

Up to 30 people will be able to attend weddings, receptions and wakes, as well as funerals, and other life events will be permitted, such as bar mitzvahs and christenings.

International travel rules will be reviewed on May 17 at the earliest.

From June 21 at the earliest, all remaining restrictions on social contact could be lifted, larger events can go ahead and nightclubs could finally reopen. 

So what are the lockdown road map key dates?

- March 8: Schools return and socialising in parks and public spaces with one other person permitted.

- March 29: School Easter holidays begin, with larger groups of up to six people or two households allowed to gather in parks and gardens.

- April 12: Shops, hairdressers, nail salons, libraries, outdoor attractions and outdoor hospitality venues such as beer gardens may reopen. Self-contained accommodation, will also be able to reopen for overnight stays by households only.

May 17: Two households or groups of up to six people may be allowed to mix indoors and crowds of up to 10,000 in the largest venues will be allowed at performances and sporting events. This is the earliest date that foreign holidays will be reviewed.

“As soon as possible” and no later than step three, when ministers committed to reviewing social-distancing guidance that has prevented loved ones from hugging for nearly a year.

June 21: When all remaining restrictions on social contact could be lifted, larger events can go ahead and nightclubs could finally reopen.

How is the Government reaching its decisions over easing restrictions?

The Prime Minister said his road map will contain four tests for easing restrictions.

The Government will take into account the success of the vaccines rollout, whether there is evidence they are reducing hospital admissions and deaths, the level of infection rates and the presence of any new Covid variants.

Such data will be examined ahead of each step along the road map before measures are unlocked any further.

Additional reporting by PA Media