England has been in its third full lockdown for a month – but when will it end and what are the key dates?
With the number of daily cases dropping consistently and the overall infection rate per 100,000 dropping, England is now past the peak of the current wave of coronavirus.
Meanwhile, more than 10 million people have been given a first dose of Covid vaccine – and early signs show the Oxford jab reduces transmission of the virus by 67 per cent.
That’s prompted calls for Boris Johnson to bring forward his plan to ease lockdown, which begins on March 8 by opening schools.
The PM said he’ll bring forward a lockdown easing plan in the week of February 22, with no changes before March 8.
Here’s everything we know so far:
This is the date of the review of the third lockdown in England.
This is also the deadline for offering the first dose of a vaccine to all 15 million of the most vulnerable people in the UK.
February 15 is also the rumoured date when hotel quarantine will finally come into force.
Boris Johnson said the lockdown exit roadmap will be published in the week of February 22. It will go before Parliament for debate.
Mr Johnson and England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty have confirmed lockdown will not be lifted all at once – but will instead involve a number of stages.
However, the Prime Minister has indicated England will not return to the regional “tiered” system and instead ease out of lockdown all at once.
The first actual easing of restrictions isn’t expected until March 8.
This is the earliest date schools could reopen in England.
It has been reported some year groups may go back first – most likely primary schools and those in secondaries that have exams this year.
Only after this will non-essential shops, pubs and the like start to reopen.
This is the date the current lockdown legislation for England ends. MPs will have to approve any extension to lockdown rules after this date.
Boris Johnson claimed restrictions would be substantially lifted by this point.
“I think we can certainly look forward to a very, very different world in this country, from Easter onwards,” the PM said.
UK Hospitality has called for pubs to reopen from this weekend if case rates are falling, but others say it’s far too soon.
This is the latest date by which all over-50s and at-risk groups are meant to have been offered their first dose, according to the NHS.
After that, the NHS will move onto giving first doses to the final, lowest-priority group – all adults under 50 without major health issues.
Early April could be the earliest that pubs, restaurants and other hospitality businesses would be allowed to reopen.
SAGE experts have previously said May would be a safer date for reopening the hospitality sector – if infection rates can be brought down.
May will also see elections across the country.
Rules allowing councils to close pubs, restaurants, shops and parks expire on this date – so it is the current latest date we could see ongoing closures in England.
What are England’s lockdown rules?
People must stay at home and only go out if you have “a reasonable excuse”.
You are not to meet people socially unless you live together or form a support bubble.
People breaking these rules can face fines, including an £800 penalty for those attending house parties of more than 15 people – and a £10,000 fine for the organisers.
What’s a ‘reasonable excuse’ for leaving home?
- Shopping for essentials such as food and medicine
- Meeting your support or childcare bubble
- Children moving between separated parents
- Working where it is “unreasonable” to work from home, for example nannies, cleaners and tradespeople
- Education, training, childcare, medical appointments and emergencies
- Religious worship
- Moving house
- Exercise once a day
You can exercise with one person from another household in an open public space.
You should stay local. Travel – internationally or around the UK – is only allowed if it is essential.
If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or essential reasons.
You should not attend work.