From Monday, April 12, people in England can finally hit the shops, trim their locks, treat their talons, and enjoy a pint outdoors with friends.
The relaxation of Covid rules marks another welcome step towards normality – but people are already wondering when the next raft of freedoms will be announced.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly said he wants rule changes to be ‘cautious but irreversible’ and has emphasised that the country’s timeline is conditional and based on infection rates continuing to fall, the vaccine programme going at the planned pace, and variants of concern being kept under control.
As of April 12, England has entered step two of the Government’s roadmap for leaving lockdown. Here are the next steps:
The next steps for lockdown lifting in England
If Boris Johnson gives stage three the green light, mixing indoors will be allowed again.
This will happen no earlier than May 17.
People will be allowed to meet inside in groups of no larger than six, and even stay the night.
Indoor hospitality venues including pubs, bars, and restaurants will be permitted to reopen, but again for groups of six people maximum.
The limit on outdoor gatherings is expected to increase from six to 30, and up to 30 people will be permitted at weddings – with receptions allowed to resume.
Indoor exercise classes will be allowed to restart and museums, cinemas and children’s play areas inside can open their doors.
Some controlled larger indoor and outdoor events will be permitted, but more details are expected after a review has been carried out and a number of pilot schemes have run, for example at the FA Cup final on May 15.
The Government has previously said holidays abroad could be permitted by May 17, but Mr Johnson has warned it is still ‘too early to tell and has told people not to book any foreign trips yet.
This is expected to be England’s final step of lockdown lifting – but is of course dependent on whether infections remain low after the third easing stage.
If all goes well, step four is expected to see all legal limits on mixing removed and the reopening of everything else which remains closed.
Weddings could take place at full capacity and nightclubs could reopen.
Live events, theatre performances and sports could be allowed with large numbers of people in the audience.
Coronavirus vaccine passports could be introduced at this point to help control potential outbreaks of infections, but the Government is currently piloting this.
It is hoped the country will reach near-normality by July, when every adult is predicted to have been offered their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
A review is currently underway to assess how long ‘baseline measures’, such as the wearing of masks and social distancing, has to remain for.
But there are concerns the stages of lockdown easing could be delayed if a third wave of Covid-19 hits the UK – as it has other countries in Europe – in the coming months.
When will the next set of lockdown rules be lifted in England?
Providing the Government’s four tests are met, the third step of lockdown lifting will take place on May 17.
As with all other stages of the roadmap, lockdown rules will only be eased if the four conditions listed below are met:
An update is expected closer to the time.
April 12 lockdown changes
From April 12, the following have been allowed to reopen:
In addition, self-catered holidays are allowed from this date, and restrictions on the number of people allowed to attend weddings and funerals have been relaxed.
Care home visits are also allowed from this date, allowing residents to have two named visitors come visit them.
Find out more about all the lockdown rule changes on April 12.