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England’s coronavirus lockdown exit strategy unveiled

It’s the announcement we have been waiting for: Boris Johnson’s roadmap to lifting lockdown in England. In a plan that will focus on ‘data not dates’, we now know what the government’s exit strategy looks like for this latest lockdown.

The strategy involves a four-step plan to ease restrictions across England and provide a route back to a more normal way of life. Each step will be assessed, and the government will move cautiously to keep infection rates under control.

Step 1

With a huge sigh of relief, parents across the country currently battling with homeschooling now know that all schools will reopen from 8 March 2021. This will include outdoor after-school sports and activities. However, schools will be able to decide which year groups go back when during that first week.

There will be mass testing in secondary schools. Home testing will be required twice weekly, and there will also be tests in school. Pupils will be required to wear masks in the classroom.

The final part of the first step out of lockdown is that two people will be able to meet outdoors for things like a coffee or a picnic. It will no longer be solely for exercise.

We will have to wait until 29 March 2021 for further lockdown restrictions to be lifted. From this date, outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households will be allowed.

As well as this, outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts will reopen and adult and children’s sport will start up again. Finally, the legal stay at home order will be lifted at this point.

Step 2

It will be 12 April 2021 before we see further easing of lockdown restrictions. This is when major parts of the economy will be allowed to reopen, including:

  • Non-essential shops, hairdressers and public buildings
  • Outdoor settings like beer gardens, zoos and theme parks (fingers crossed the April showers will stay away this year)
  • Swimming pools and gyms
  • Self-contained holidays accommodation, such as self-catering lets and campsites

However, social contact rules will still be in place. So you still won’t be able to pop round to your friend’s house for a cuppa.

Step 3

If the lockdown exit strategy goes to plan, from 17 May 2021 we will finally see the end of the ‘rule of six’ for outdoor gatherings. But it won’t be a free for all; it will be replaced with a limit of 30 people.

However, there is more good news. Two households will be able to mix indoors (rule of six will apply in pubs and restaurants). In addition, cinemas, hotels, theatres and sporting events will be able to reopen with social distancing measures in place.

Step 4

The biggie that we all want to reach is 21 June 2021. If we hit all the right data points, then from this date we could see the back of lockdown restrictions in England for the foreseeable future.

Yep, that’s right: the summer equinox could see all legal limits on social contact removed. This means that places like nightclubs could reopen and restrictions on weddings and funerals could be abolished.

Data not dates

Now, while it seems like the above is largely hung on dates, the lockdown exit strategy is actually dependent on England meeting certain data points.

The four key conditions that need to be met for each step of easing lockdown are:

  1. The coronavirus vaccine programme continues to do as well as it is.
  2. There is evidence that vaccines are reducing the number of people needing hospital treatment. So far, the data suggests this is the case.
  3. Infection rates don’t surge and lead to high numbers of hospital admissions again.
  4. No further new variants derail the lockdown exit plan.

Support during lockdown

While we can see a way out of lockdown, it is a little way off. If you are worried about your finances while restrictions continue, take a look at our coronavirus resources page. Here you can find articles on topics such as your redundancy rights and when the fourth Covid 19 SEISS grant will be paid.

And with Chancellor Rishi Sunak announcing the new Budget on Wednesday 3 March 2021, check back to see all the major points covered that could affect your personal finances.

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