Boris Johnson 'very optimistic' about removing all Covid restrictions by 21 June

23 February 2021, 11:07 | Updated: 23 February 2021, 12:16

By Megan White

Boris Johnson has said he is "very optimistic" about removing all of England's Covid restrictions by June 21 after he revealed his four-step roadmap out of lockdown.

Speaking at a school in south London, the Prime Minister told reporters that "obviously nothing can be guaranteed" but said "we can really look at that June 21 date with some optimism."

He spoke after unveiling his four-stage road map on Monday, which he said will bring "incomparably better" lives in spring and summer.

The plan aims to get life in England back to as close to normal as possible by July based on four tests, with the Government set to examine the data at each stage before unlocking further.

Mr Johnson said: "I'm hopeful but obviously nothing can be guaranteed and it all depends on the way we continue to be prudent and continue to follow the guidance in each stage.

"Genuinely because of the immense possibilities of the rollout, because science has given us this way of creating a shield around our population, we can really look at that June 21 date with some optimism.

"I think that's how I would put it. I'm very optimistic that we'll be able to get there."

He added: "Some people will say that we're going to be going too fast, some people will say we're going too slow.

"I think the balance is right, I think it is a cautious but irreversible approach, which is exactly what people want to see.

"Getting kids back into school, massively important for the country, we need time to assess what that does to the disease, to the prevalence of Covid.

"And then again when you look at the April 12 openings, you need to look at the impact of that, what does non-essential retail do, the opening of hospitality and so on. You're adding to the budget of risk and you need time to observe the impact of that.

"So we think it's a sensible approach, a prudent approach, but also as I think people can see it goes on irreversibly and we open up on June 21 in a way that I don't think people would have really thought possible had it not been for the rollout of the vaccinations."

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

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.

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.

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