- 22 Feb 21
All schools in England are set to open on March 8.
Boris Johnson is set to unveil his road map for the easing of England's lockdown restrictions at a press conference this evening, February 22, at 7pm.
Ahead of the press conference, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi told BBC Breakfast that the restrictions will be lifted in stages – with the first stage split into two parts. From March 8, all schools will reopen, with outdoor after-school sports and activities allowed to return. Recreation in public spaces will be allowed between two people. New rules will also allow each care home resident in England to have one regular visitor from this date.
From March 29, outdoor gatherings of six people (or two households) will be allowed. Outdoor sports facilities will also reopen, and it is expected that people will be able to travel out of their areas.
Venues, theatres and cinemas are unlikely to reopen in March – with British Film Institute chief executive Ben Roberts telling Variety earlier this month that he predicted cinemas would not reopen until around May.
Boris Johnson's roadmap will outline four steps for the easing of restrictions. However, there will be four conditions that must be met at each phase – including the vaccine programme continuing to go as planned; evidence showing that the vaccines are sufficiently reducing the number of people dying or needing hospital treatment due to the virus; infection rates not risking a surge in hospitals; and new variants of the virus not significantly altering the risk of easing restrictions.
"Our decisions will be made on the latest data at every step," Johnson stated on Twitter, "and we will be cautious about this approach so that we do not undo the progress we have achieved so far and the sacrifices each and every one of you has made to keep yourself and others safe."
Over one in three adults in the UK have now had their first dose of the vaccine.
The UK's Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has stated that there is "early data" showing a reduction in transmission in people who have had the vaccine – with hospital admissions falling "much more sharply" than in the first wave of the pandemic.