PM to prioritise schools and socialising in road map out of lockdown

Boris Johnson has announced that he will make reopening schools and safely reuniting loved ones a priority on his roadmap.

The Prime Minister will address Parliament on Monday to explain the “cautious” approach to easing coronavirus restrictions across England.

Its roadmap will include four tests to facilitate the action, with the government reviewing the data at each stage before it goes further.

Ministers will evaluate the success of the vaccine introduction, evidence of vaccine effectiveness, new variants and infection rates before moving on to the next step.

Testing is currently in progress, the government said, so the first relaxation can take place on March 8 – when schools are widely expected to return.

Mr Johnson said, “Today I’m going to be creating a roadmap to carefully get us out of lockdown.

“Our priority has always been to get children back to school who we know are vital to their education, mental and physical well-being, and we will also find ways to safely reunite people with loved ones prioritize.

“Our decisions are based on the latest data at every step, and we will be careful with this approach so that we do not see the progress made so far and the sacrifices each and every one of you has made to keep yourself and yourself undo others for sure.

“We have therefore identified four key tests that must be passed before we can go through each step of the plan.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Sunday that there will be “weeks between steps” so ministers can “watch” the effects of any relaxation of restrictions.

With the virus currently spreading uniformly across England, restrictions will be eased step by step at the same time, Downing Street said.

Number 10 said the blueprint would seek to balance health needs with the social and economic impact of the lockdown.

For example, outdoor activities should open earlier than indoor activities as the risk of the coronavirus spreading outdoors is lower.

MPs will be given the opportunity to vote on the rules that will make the roadmap possible in the coming weeks, Number 10 said.

Mr Johnson will chair a virtual cabinet meeting on Monday morning to discuss the plan and present the details to Parliament that afternoon.

He is expected to host a press conference on Downing Street later Monday evening along with key advisors.

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