PM announces roadmap to ease lockdown restrictions

On 22 February 2021 the Prime Minister's Office published a press release announcing the government’s roadmap to cautiously ease lockdown restrictions in England.

The press release clarifies that there will be a four-step roadmap to ease restrictions across England which should provide a route back to a more normal way of life.

Whilst dates have been given for each step, they are described as “from” a certain date certain restrictions will be eased. Each step will be assessed against four tests before restrictions ease.

The four tests will be :

  • The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.
  • Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
  • Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
  • Their assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.

The government explained there will be a minimum of five weeks between each step: four weeks for the data to reflect changes in restrictions; followed by seven days’ notice of the restrictions to be eased.

The government advises that you should continue to work from home where possible, and overseas travel remains banned, aside for a small number of reasons.

The first step could start from 29 March 2021. 

The easing will include the ability to have outdoor gatherings of either 6 people or 2 households will be allowed, providing greater flexibility for families to see each other. This includes in private gardens.  Outdoor sports facilities, such as tennis and basketball courts, will be allowed to reopen, and people can take part in formally organised outdoor sports.

The second step could start from 12 April 2021. 

The easing will include Non-essential retail, hairdressers,and public buildings, such as libraries and community centres, reopening. Hospitality venues can serve people outdoors only.

The third step could start from 17 May 2021. 

The easing will include the opportunity of outdoor performances such as outdoor cinemas and outdoor theatres. Indoor adult group sports and exercise classes will also be allowed to reopen.

The fourth step could start from 21 June 2021.

The government hopes all legal limits on social contact could be removed.

Further details can be accessed in the press release here.

On the same day the Cabinet Office published their COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021 guidance, which  has a sub section on economic and social support. Outlining that the 3 March Budget will set out the next stage in the Government’s Plan for Jobs including further detail on economic support to protect jobs and livelihoods across the UK.

The guidance can be accessed here.

We recommend that all local VCSE organisations consider reading the guidance in full to establish how that will impact employment of staff, future service delivery and future applications for grants.