A huge shake-up of lockdown restrictions is on its way as Boris Johnson prepares to announce his ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown later today. The Prime Minister is expected to announce a timeline for how and when restrictions will change over the coming months following a significant drop in coronavirus cases and the success of the NHS vaccination programme.
So far more than 17.5 million people have received their first coronavirus jab, with all adults now expected to be offered a jab by July 31.
The current lockdown began in England on January 4, following skyrocketing coronavirus numbers on the run up to Christmas.
A previous lockdown in November failed to quash case numbers sufficiently, leading to the closure of schools and all non-essential services at the beginning of 2021.
Socialising with those outside of your household has been off the cards throughout the current lockdown.
You are currently allowed to meet one other person from outside of your household for exercise, but you are not permitted to take part in a social activity, such as having a picnic or going shopping together.
But this is set to change with announcements coming later today that England will slowly but surely be brought out of restrictions as a whole as opposed to returning to the tier system used before Christmas.
However, lockdown measures will only be eased if certain criteria are met, such as continued reduction in deaths and hospitalisations and the vaccination programme continuing to go to plan.
It will also be beholden to any potential risk provided by new coronavirus variants.
However, it is also thought the lifting of the rules will mean two households can meet up – regardless of size.
This is yet to be confirmed but may mean a household of four people could meet up with another household fo four people, for instance.
The first set of restrictions will ease on March 8, with the return of face-to-face teaching in classrooms due to begin again on March 8.
Changes are also confirmed for visits to care homes, with residents allowed one contact from outside of the home with whom they do not have to socially distance.
Beyond the next month or so changes are currently unclear, but it is expected the Prime Minister will outline plans beyond the end of March later this evening.
Ahead of tonight’s announcement, Mr Johnson said: “Today I’ll be setting out a roadmap to bring us out of lockdown cautiously.
“Our priority has always been getting children back into school which we know is crucial for their education as well as their mental and physical wellbeing, and we will also be prioritising ways for people to reunite with loved ones safely.
“Our decisions will be made on the latest data at every step, 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.
“We have therefore set four key tests which must be met before we can move through each step of the plan.”
The Prime Minister will announce lockdown changes tonight at 7pm.