PM says lockdown road map will bring 'incomparably better' lives in spring and summer

22 February 2021, 19:21 | Updated: 23 February 2021, 10:41

We are on a 'one way road to freedom', says PM

By Kate Buck

Boris Johnson has hailed a "one way road to freedom" after setting out his plans to relax Covid rules and allow people to get back to some form of normality.

The plan aims to get life in England back to as close to normal as possible by July, with a four step plan to get the nation moving again.

Any and all relaxations will be conditional based on four tests, with the Government set to examine the data at each stage before unlocking further.

In the first step of the "road map", all pupils in England's schools are expected to return to class from March 8, with wider use of face masks and testing in secondaries.

Read more: Life almost back to normal by 21 June in Boris Johnson's 'roadmap' to freedom

Socialising in parks and public spaces with one other person will also be permitted from that date.

A further easing will take place on March 29, when the school Easter holidays begin, with larger groups of up to six people or two households allowed to gather in parks and gardens.

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, the Prime Minister said over 17.7 million people have now received at least one Covid-19 dose, meaning "there is light ahead" as a result of the vaccination programme.

Boris Johnson earlier today announced his "roadmap" to come out of lockdown
Boris Johnson earlier today announced his "roadmap" to come out of lockdown. Picture: PA

Mr Johnson added it was time for the jabs to start replacing curbs on liberty as a way of protecting against Covid-19.

"We cannot persist indefinitely with restrictions that have separated families and loved ones for too long, threatened the livelihoods of millions, kept pupils out of school," he said.

"Thanks to the vaccinations there is light ahead, leading us to a spring and a summer, which I think will be seasons of hope, looking and feeling incomparably better for us all."

Read more: Face masks become mandatory in secondary schools - and other new rules

But while hailing the rollout of the vaccine, Mr Johnson also warned the country needed to be "realistic" in the fact there will be more deaths.

"The vaccines reduce the danger of Covid: they save lives and they keep people out of hospital," he said.

"But no vaccine against any disease has ever been 100 per cent effective, so whenever we ease the lockdown, whether it is today or in six or nine months, we’ve got to be realistic and accept that there will be more infections, more hospitalisations and therefore – sadly - more deaths, just as there are every year with flu."

The Prime Minister also promised the Government would do "whatever it takes to protect jobs and livelihoods" across the UK while the restrictions continue.

PM 'can't guarantee' that lockdown easing will be irreversible

Ministers will assess the success of the vaccine rollout, evidence of vaccine efficacy, new variants and infection rates before proceeding to the next step.

Each step will be in place for at least five weeks before experts asses whether it is safe to proceed to the next one.

The Prime Minister told MPs the approach was "cautious but also irreversible", with the impact of the vaccination programme replacing the need for lockdown measures.

He said a "wretched year would give way to a spring and a summer that will be very different and incomparably better".

PM says there's no credible route to a zero Covid world

What lockdown easing will look like:

Step 1
March 8

  • All schools to reopen
  • Outdoor school sports and activities allowed to resume
  • People allowed outdoors recreationally on a one-plus-one basis
  • Care home residents permitted one regular visitor and will be able to hold hands
  • Funerals to allow up to 30 people and weddings will allow 6

March 29

  • Up to six people or people from two households in outdoor spaces
  • Outdoor sports facilities to reopen (eg Tennis, Basketball courts)
  • Organised adult or children's sports activities can return
  • Outdoor child and parent groups can return (up to 15 parents)

Step 2 - after five weeks of Step 1, no earlier than April 12

  • Non-essential retail to open
  • Outdoor hospitality can reopen
  • Gyms and indoor leisure open for individual use
  • Hairdressers and personal care services can reopen
  • Outdoor attractions such as zoos, drive-thru cinemas and theme parks can reopen.
  • Driving lessons can reopen
  • Funeral wakes, weddings and receptions can have up to 15 people

Step 3 - after five weeks of Step 2, no earlier than May 17

  • Indoor hospitality, with no requirement for a substantial meal to be served alongside alcoholic drinks, and no curfew. The requirement to order, eat and drink while seated (‘table service’) will remain
  • 30 person limit outdoors - rule of six will apply indoors (subject to conditions)
  • International travel may be allowed (subject to conditions)
  • Remaining outdoor entertainment, such as outdoor theatres and cinemas can open
  • Indoor entertainment, such as museums, cinemas and children’s play area can open
  • Remaining accommodation, such as hotels, hostels and B&Bs will be allowed to operate
  • Adult indoor group sports and exercise classes
  • Some large events, including conferences, theatre and concert performances and sports events
  • Significant life events allowed up to 30 people

Step 4 - after at least five weeks of Step 3, no earlier than June 21

  • Remove all legal limits on social contact, allowing people to meet indoors
  • Nightclubs, theatres allowed to reopen (subject to conditions)
  • All limits on weddings and other life events removed