The next phase of lifting of lockdown restrictions is in sight for England as the government lifts some rules in a matter of days.
This is the first phase of a four-step plan that runs until June 21 at the earliest.
Restrictions on reopening pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and non-essential stores are due to be lifted from April 12th.
Many people across England will look forward to regaining some level of normalcy, although the rules on face masks and social distancing will be firmly entrenched for some time.
Here you will find all the rules and restrictions that will be lifted in the coming weeks and months.
- 1 Step one: March 29
- 2 Second step: April 12th
- 3 Step three: 17th of May
- 4 Step four: June 21st
Step one: March 29
As part of Step 1, schools reopened earlier this month, but a number of new changes will go into effect on Monday.
The evidence shows that it is safer for people to meet outside than inside. And because of this, starting March 29, when most schools split for the Easter break, outdoor gatherings (including in private gardens) of either six people (the rule of six) or two households will also be allowed, making it easier make friends and families to meet outside.
Business and activities
Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts and outdoor swimming pools can also be reopened, and participants can participate in formally organized outdoor sports.
The “stay at home” rule ends on March 29th, but many restrictions remain.
People should continue to work from home where they can and minimize the number of trips they make whenever possible to avoid traveling at the busiest times and on the busiest routes.
Travel abroad is still prohibited, except for a small number of legitimate reasons. Stays abroad are not permitted as it is still important to control the risk of imported variants and to protect the vaccination program. The government has set up a new task force to review global travel, which will report on April 12th.
Second step: April 12th
Business and activities
In step two, which will take place no earlier than April 12, the non-essential retail store will open. Personal care facilities such as hairdressers and nail salons; and public buildings, including libraries and community centers. Indoor leisure facilities such as gyms will also reopen (but only for individuals or in household groups). As do most outdoor attractions and environments, including outdoor restaurants, zoos, theme parks, and drive-in theaters.
Independent accommodations, such as campsites and vacation rentals, where interior furnishings are not shared with other households, can also be reopened.
Restaurants are allowed to serve people outdoors, and customers do not have to order a full meal with alcoholic beverages and without a curfew, although customers have to order, eat and drink while seated (“table service”).
In all of these environments, more comprehensive rules governing social contact apply to prevent mixing between different households indoors.
While funerals can continue with up to 30 mourners, the number of people who can attend weddings, receptions, and memorial services such as guards increases to 15.
Step three: 17th of May
As part of step three, on May 17 at the earliest, the government will attempt to further relax the limits of seeing friends and family wherever possible, so that people can choose the risk appropriate to their circumstances.
This means that most legal restrictions on meeting others outdoors will be lifted – although gatherings of more than 30 people remain illegal.
Indoors, the six or two household rule applies – the government will continue to consider whether it is safe to increase this.
As soon as possible and no later than step three, the government will update the advice on social distancing between friends and family, including hugs. Until then, however, people should continue to keep their distance from anyone who is not in their household or in their support bubble.
Business and activities
Most companies can reopen, with the exception of the highest risk sectors. COVID-Secure policies remain in place in all sectors and companies may not target groups larger than legal limits.
Indoor hospitality is reopening – and like in Step 2, the venues don’t need to serve a full meal of alcoholic beverages. There will also be no curfew. However, customers have to order, eat and drink while seated.
Other indoor locations to be opened include indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas and children’s playgrounds. the rest of the lodging sector, including hotels, hostels and B & Bs; and indoor group sports and exercise classes for adults.
The government will also hold some larger indoor performances and sporting events with a capacity of 1,000 people or half full (whichever is lower) and outdoor areas with a capacity of 4,000 people or half full (whichever is) allow lower number).
The largest outdoor seating, where crowds can spread out, can hold up to 10,000 people (or a quarter full, whichever is lower).
Up to 30 people can attend weddings, receptions and vigils, as well as funerals. This limit also applies to other types of major life events, including bar mitzvah and baptism.
Social distancing review
Finally, before the fourth step begins, the government will finalize a review of social distancing and other long-term measures that have been put in place to reduce transmission.
This will inform decisions about the timing and circumstances under which social distancing rules, wearing face coverings, and other measures may be overruled.
This will also provide guidance on working from home – which should, if possible, continue until this review is completed.
Step four: June 21st
By the fourth step, which will take place on June 21 at the earliest, the government hopes to be able to lift all legal restrictions on social contact.
Business, activities and events
The government is hoping to reopen the remaining premises – such as nightclubs – and ease the restrictions on major events and performances that will apply in step three.
This will be subject to the results of a scientific event research program designed to test the results of certain pilot events in the spring and summer. There the government will test the use of tests and other techniques to reduce the risk of infection.
The same event research program will guide decisions about whether all boundaries can be lifted for weddings and other life events.