England’s roadmap out of lockdown is due to be announced this evening amid falling case numbers and the huge success of the UK’s vaccination programme. Boris Johnson is due to give a press conference this evening regarding the changes in lockdown measures across England, which have been in place since early January.
This is the first time lockdown restrictions will be eased since cases began spiking in December.
However, there are a number of criteria that must be met for lockdown restrictions to be eased.
First, the vaccine programme must continue to “go to plan” – currently it is expected that every adult will be offered their first dose by July 31.
Lockdown measures will then only be eased if the data shows the vaccines are reducing hospitalizations and deaths.
Restrictions will then be eased further once the data shows that infection rates do not risk putting unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
As well as these, any potential new variants must not fundamentally change the risk of lifting restrictions, such as causing a reduction in vaccine efficacy.
Mr 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.”
March 29 will see the return of the rule of six. It is thought that socialising will be limited to groups of six or two households – but there has not been any confirmation that if two households mix the group can exceed six people.
Socialising should only be taking place outside but will not be limited to public spaces – meaning socialising in private gardens will be back on the table for the first time since the summer.
Travelling in and out of your area is currently not allowed but this could be eased from March 29, although it is thought that overnight stays outside of your home will not be permitted.
Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis, basketball courts and golf courses will reopen, along with grassroots football matches able to come back.
Steps two, three and four are yet to be announced, but will likely include the reopening of non-essential retail, plus hotels, pubs and restaurants.
These steps are expected to be outlined by the Prime Minister in his announcement this afternoon.
However, Mr Johnson is not expected to outline firm dates. Instead, the PM will give “no earlier than” dates.
When we will see a full return to normal is still unclear, but more is expected to be revealed in the statement given to the House of Commons at 3.30pm, followed by the Downing Street televised address at 7pm.
Express.co.uk will update this story with the full lockdown roadmap later today.