Prime Minister Boris Johnson will today set out the government’s roadmap for the easing of lockdown restrictions in England.
In a statement to Parliament this afternoon, and then in a press conference this evening, Mr Johnson will set out the latest data regarding the Coronavirus pandemic in England, before announcing a roadmap for leaving lockdown.
The Government has described the roadmap as one for ‘cautiously’ easing restrictions. The roadmap outlines four steps for the easing of lockdown measures, with all parts of England expected to see restrictions eased at the same time – unlike previously under the tiering system.
Before the country can proceed to each step, it must pass an assessment by the government which will look at four tests, including;
- the vaccine deployment programme continuing successfully
- evidence showing vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalizations and deaths in those vaccinated
- infection rates not risking a surge in hospitalizations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS
- assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.
According to the government, the four tests are currently being met, so the first step of the easing of restrictions will take place on 8 March. This step is expected to include the reopening of schools to all pupils in England and slight eases on outdoor social mixing rules.
Restrictions on outdoor activities are expected to be eased ahead of restrictions on indoor activities, due to the risks associated with the virus spreading in the different settings.
Ahead of announcing the roadmap out of lockdown, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said;
“Today I’ll be setting out a roadmap to bring us out of lockdown cautiously. Our priority has always been getting children back into school which we know is crucial for their education as well as their mental and physical wellbeing, and we will also be prioritising ways for people to reunite with loved ones safely.
“Our decisions will be made on the latest data at every step, and we will be cautious about this approach so that we do not undo the progress we have achieved so far and the sacrifices each and every one of you has made to keep yourself and others safe.
“We have therefore set four key tests which must be met before we can move through each step of the plan.”
The Labour Party has called for schools to return on 8 March and has also urged the government to provide support and certainty for businesses which are continuing to be impacted by the pandemic.
The Cabinet met virtually this morning to discuss the plan for easing lockdown. Boris Johnson is expected to give a statement in the House of Commons to set out the plan around 15:30 this afternoon.