Have we seen the last of lockdown?
8th March, 2021
On the 22nd of February Boris Johnson made his national announcement where he laid out the plan for the UK’s decent from its third lockdown.
In his announcement, Boris explained how the exceptional success of the vaccinations, including the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which reduces hospitalisations by 75% from just one dose of the vaccine. The combination of the three MHRA approved vaccinations have proved instrumental in cutting infection rates and helping reduce the spread of Coronavirus.
The prime minister not only set out the 4 stages of the lockdown, but also stated that this process would be ‘irreversible’ and intends for this to be the last lockdown that the country will experience.
He also reiterated that the journey back to normalcy would be based on ‘data, not dates’ meaning the government will need to assess the effects of the last ease of restrictions against four different factors before progressing onto the next stages.
Each stage will be at least five weeks apart, the four tests that must be passed before progression are:
- That the Covid-19 vaccination plan continues to stay on track.
- That further evidence shows these vaccinations are effective in reducing hospitalisations and infection of those vaccinated.
- That infection rates do not prose a risk to an increase in hospitalisations, putting unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
- That professional assessment of the risks is not profoundly changed by new variants of concern.
The first stage out of lockdown commences in two parts, with the first steps being introduced today, the 8th of March.
- All schools and colleges will return as normal.
- University students can return for practical courses, at the end of the easter holidays, the potential return for all other students will be assessed.
- Residents of care homes are allowed one nominated visitor. However certain restrictions such as PPE, a lateral flow test and minimised physical contact will still apply.
- Wraparound childcare and other supervised children’s activities can resume, when enabling parents to work, or find work, attend education or a support group, and for medical requirements.
- The ‘stay at home’ requirement will still apply, but you can leave your home for additional reasons such as outdoor recreation, with your household and support bubble.
Further changes from the 29th of March include:
- Outdoor gatherings of either 6 people or 2 households will be allowed.
- Outdoor sports facilities will be allowed to reopen, and formally organised outdoor sports will be allowed to continue.
- The ‘stay at home’ requirement will end. However, many restrictions stay in place.
Stage 2 will begin no earlier than the 12th of April, after ensuring that each of the 4 assessments have been successfully achieved.
- Non-essential retail can reopen.
- Personal/beauty care services can recommence, such as hairdressers and nail salons.
- Public buildings such as libraries and community services can reopen.
- Most outdoor settings can reopen, with restrictions on social distancing still applied, to prevent indoor mixing between different households.
- Indoor leisure facilities, such as gyms and swimming pools can reopen.
- Pubs and restaurants can reopen but only for outdoor seating.
- Self-contained accommodation, where indoor facilities are not shared with other households can reopen.
- Funerals can continue to accommodate 30 people, and 15 people can attend weddings, receptions, and events such as wakes.
From no earlier than the 17th of May:
- Most outdoors social contact rules will be eased, however only up to gatherings of 30m people.
- Indoor hospitality, entertainment venues, the remaining accommodation venues, and indoor adult exercise classes can resume.
- Larger performances and sporting venues can operate indoors with either a capacity of 1000 or half-full, as well as outdoor venues, with either 4000 or at half full capacity.
- In large outdoor seated venues, 10000 people can attend.
- The number of people able to attend weddings, receptions, and events such as wakes, will rise from 15 to 30.
The final stage of the UKs journey out of lockdown will commence no earlier than the 21st of June.
- Potentially, all legal limits on social contact can be lifted.
- Nightclubs can reopen, and restrictions on larger events can be lifted.
- Decisions to be made on whether all limits can be removed on weddings and other life events.
The journey to beating Covid-19 has been a long and tiresome journey for people all over the world. Particularly in the UK, where the economy and society have struggled greatly to cope with the immense strain that Covid has applied to the country.
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