What to expect from Boris Johnson’s Covid lockdown 'roadmap' tomorrow

21 February 2021, 10:53 | Updated: 21 February 2021, 11:40

Boris Johnson is to announce a 'cautious' easing of lockdown tomorrow.
Boris Johnson is to announce a 'cautious' easing of lockdown tomorrow. Picture: PA

By Joe Cook

A roadmap out of lockdown is set to be announced by Boris Johnson in a speech to Parliament on Monday 22 February.

The long-awaited speech will give England the first clear idea of how the government expects to ease lockdown, after months of tight lockdown rules.

Each of the four UK nations will ease lockdown separately, with Nicola Sturgeon expected to outline her plans for Scotland on Tuesday.

On Sunday, Matt Hancock said that the PM’s roadmap was still being worked on, however some details of what is likely to be announced have emerged ahead of time.

So what time is Boris Johnson speaking tomorrow? How is the PM approaching easing lockdown? When will schools return? When will social distancing end? And when will pubs and restaurants reopen?

What time is Boris Johnson speaking tomorrow?

The prime minister is expected to reveal his lockdown roadmap in an announcement to MPs at around 3pm, before addressing the nation in a press conference from Downing Street at 7pm.

The lineup for the expected press conference is unconfirmed, however for significant announcements Boris Johnson is normally accompanied by Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Officer Patrick Vallance.

Watch: 'All people with a learning disability should get Covid vaccine priority'

How is Boris Johnson approaching the route out of lockdown?

Boris Johnson has made clear that he will be guided by “data not dates” in his reopening plan, taking a “cautious and irreversible” approach.

So, while we should expect some rough dates for when restrictions may be looked at, it is unlikely the PM will give an exact date for pubs reopening or the end of social distancing.

All the dates will be dependent on a continued fall in Covid death and case numbers.

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The dates for hospitality reopening are expected to be indicative, depending on Covid case and death numbers.
The dates for hospitality reopening are expected to be indicative, depending on Covid case and death numbers. Picture: PA

However, while we should expect some caution, Mr Johnson is likely to be upbeat about the country’s future, after almost a year of Covid restrictions, due to the success of the vaccine rollout.

In a boost to morale, the government pledged on Saturday that all UK adults will be offered a Covid vaccine by 31 July.

Announcing the new target the PM said it would allow us to “take further steps to ease some of the restrictions in place”.

When will schools reopen?

A return to classrooms is expected to begin from 8 March.

The government has made clear that getting all students back to school is their first priority in easing lockdown.

Discussions are reportedly ongoing in government about whether all students will return on 8 March or if there will be a staggered approach, with the youngest students going back to schools first.

Reports suggest No 10 is planning for all students to return on this date, however teachers and headmasters unions have pushed back on the issue.

CMO Chris Whitty is also said to be against a “big bang” reopening, according to The Guardian.

Coinciding with the reopening of schools, care home residents will be allowed one regular named visitor from March 8.

Read more: Care Association chief: Staff numbers 'a real problem' when visiting resumes

Will there be a return to the tier system?

Reports suggest that the regional tier system, introduced in England after the second national lockdown, will now be scrapped.

With the vaccine rollout continuing at pace across the country and case levels relatively evenly spread, the government is expected to release the rules across the country at the same time.

On Sunday, a senior government source told The Sun: “There will be no more tiers. We’ll be taking these steps as one nation.

“No region will be left behind this time. We’re in this together and shall leave together.”

When will social distancing end?

From 29 March, people are expected to be allowed to meet up outside in groups of up to six people, or two households.

However, larger social gatherings could be a long way off. The Sun reports that the ‘rule of six’ and social distancing rules are likely to stay throughout the summer.

Government scientists are keen to maintain the social distancing rules, Sky News suggests. However, some ministers are reportedly concerned that this could spell the end for some industries.

Social distancing guidelines are expected to stay in place for the foreseeable future.
Social distancing guidelines are expected to stay in place for the foreseeable future. Picture: PA

When will pubs and restaurants reopen?

Socialising outdoors is expected to be allowed from as early as 29 March, potentially even in beer gardens.

However, the date for when pubs and restaurants will be able to reopen fully is currently unclear.

Reports suggest it could be as early as Easter or weeks later during May. The conflicting dates are likely to be mirroring the ongoing discussions in government with no set date yet decided.

The requirement for a substantial meal to be purchased with any alcohol is expected to be scrapped, after it caused confusion in December.

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