Lockdown easing: Outdoor socialising 'one of first things to be allowed after schools reopen'

5 February 2021, 06:13 | Updated: 5 February 2021, 10:12

Socialising outdoors and sports activities will be the first things given the green light after schools have reopened and lockdown is eased
Socialising outdoors and sports activities will be the first things given the green light after schools have reopened and lockdown is eased. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Socialising outdoors and sports activities will be the first things given the green light after schools have reopened and lockdown is eased, it has been reported.

People in England have been banned from meeting more than one person in a socially distanced outdoor setting since January 5, when the third national lockdown came into force.

But "tentative" plans are reportedly being drawn up by ministers which would allow certain outdoor sports such as golf and tennis, and limited social gatherings.

These will reportedly come weeks after the planned reopening of schools from 8 March, according to The Times.

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It is also understood that plans for pubs and non-essential shops to open their doors again will be laid out, after they spent a large proportion of last year and almost the entirety of this year shut.

Outdoor markets and al fresco dining areas could once again be allowed, meaning different households may be able to meet outdoors.

outdoor markets and al fresco dining areas could once again be allowed
outdoor markets and al fresco dining areas could once again be allowed. Picture: PA

It comes as Boris Johnson warned on Wednesday that infections remain "alarmingly high" and the NHS is still under "huge pressure", despite promising vaccination data.

The Prime Minister praised the "colossal" effort of health workers who have helped vaccinate more than 10 million people against Covid-19 in the UK.

But he said: "Though today there are some signs of hope - the numbers of Covid patients in hospital are beginning to fall for the first time since the onset of this new wave - the level of infection is still alarmingly high.

"The wards of our NHS are under huge pressure with more than 32,000 Covid patients still in hospital."

Mr Johnson, addressing a Downing Street press conference, said vaccines appear to reduce death and serious illness from the main strains of coronavirus.

England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said that while the number of people in hospital with coronavirus has "quite noticeably" reduced, it is still above that of the first peak in April last year.

It also comes as it was announced Travellers arriving in the UK from countries on the travel ban "red list" will have to quarantine in a Government-approved hotel from February 15.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said it was working "at pace" to roll out managed quarantine facilities in time for British nationals returning to the UK from high-risk destinations.

The decision to require travellers to self-isolate for 10 days in approved accommodation to ensure they follow the rules was originally announced last week following the emergence of new coronavirus variants in South Africa and Brazil.

However, ministers have been under fire for failing to announce when it would be implemented or how it would work.

The list of approved hotels has not yet been announced, with hotels near ports and airports being issued a commercial specification from the DHSC asking how they can support the delivery of quarantine.

Further details will be set out next week on how passengers will be able to book into the designated accommodation facilities, the government said.