From holidays to weddings - what does 68-page Covid roadmap tell us?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson giving his speech to Parliament, in in the House of Commons, London.

Prime minister Boris Johnson giving his speech to parliament, in in the House of Commons, London, about setting out the road map for easing coronavirus restrictions across England. Photo: House of Commons/PA Wire - Credit: House of Commons/PA Wire

A detailed blueprint outlining the country's gradual return to normality has been released by the government.

Prime minister Boris Johnson announced several elements of the roadmap in the House of Commons this afternoon, including that people will be able to meet one other household, or follow the rule of six, outdoors from March 29.

But to coincide with the announcement - and ahead of a televised press statement at 7pm on Monday night - the government has released a 68-page blueprint detailing more specifically how the roadmap will unfold.

It says: "The success of the vaccination rollout, alongside falling infections and hospitalisations, is paving the way for the safe and gradual lifting of restrictions. Vaccines will mean that fewer people will get Covid-19 and that those who do are far less likely to go to hospital or to die.

Prime minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVI

Prime minister Boris Johnson. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

"However, not all those offered the vaccine will take it up and there are some groups, such as children, for whom the vaccine is not yet authorised. Even when vaccinated, there is still a chance people can contract the virus and pass it on. No vaccine is 100pc effective and, like all viruses, Covid-19 can mutate.

"As a result, as lockdown is lifted, there will sadly be more cases, hospitalisations and deaths. The Government will take a cautious approach to easing lockdown, guided by the data in order to avoid a surge in infections that would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS."

Rather than regional restrictions, the document says that restrictions will be eased across the country.

Here are some of the details:

How and when will restrictions be lifted?

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Moving to the next phase of easing rules is based on four factors, it says:

  • The vaccine programme continuing successfully
  • Evidence showing vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths
  • Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations
  • Risk assessment is not fundamentally changed by any new variants

It takes around four weeks of data to reflect the impact, it says, with another week needed for the government to provide notice to affected individuals and businesses.

"The roadmap therefore sets out indicative, 'no earlier than' dates for the steps which are five weeks apart," the document says.

"These dates are wholly contingent on the data and are subject to change if the four tests are not met."

The beach huts at Wells. Picture: Ian Burt

The beach at Wells, on the north Norfolk coast. - Credit: Ian Burt

Will there be an end to coronavirus?

The roadmap says: "Over time, scientists expect Covid-19 to become endemic, meaning the virus will reach a stable, and hopefully manageable level.

"Vaccinations - including revaccination - will be key to managing the transition from pandemic to endemic state. Therapeutics and antivirals will become increasingly important, replacing most non-pharmaceutical interventions over the long-term."

What impact has the pandemic had?

The blueprint says the government has provided more than £280bn in financial support since March last year, but the number of employees on payroll fell by 828,000 from February to December 2020.

Staff in the hardest-hit sectors, including hospitality, are likely to be young, female, from an ethnic minority and lower paid.

The unemployment rate for those aged 18 to 24 increased from 10.5pc in the three months to February 2020 to 13.2pc in the three months to November 2020.

Picture shows a generic shot of school kids walking from the backKids/School/bags/generic/playground

Schools are set to fully reopen from March 8.

The first stage - March 8 and 29

Under the first easing of restrictions, from March 8:

  • Schools and colleges will open to all students
  • People can meet and exercise will their household or one person from another household outdoors
  • The stay at home order will remain in place
  • Funerals can have up to 30 people at them
  • Weddings can resume with up to six people
  • Every care home resident in England will be able to nominate a single named visitor who can come in for a regular visit 

"From March 8, the Stay at Home restriction will continue but it will be amended so that people can leave home for recreation as well as exercise outdoors - with their own household, support or childcare bubble, or with one person from another household," it says.

"Social distancing and other safe behaviours should be followed. In England, travel abroad for holidays will still not be permitted and, from March 8, outbound travellers will be legally obliged to provide their reason for travel on the Declaration to Travel form."

And from March 29:

  • Two households or people following the rule of six can meet outdoors. There will still be no mixing indoors.
  • Outdoor sport and leisure facilities will resume.
  • Organised sport for children and adults will resume.
  • People will be encouraged to minimise travel and not take holidays.
  • People can meet in groups of parents and children up to 15 people.
  • The stay at home order will be lifted

"The government will also allow outdoor sports facilities to reopen, broadening the options for outdoor exercise and recreation," they said.

"These facilities, such as tennis and basketball courts, and swimming pools, can be used by people in line with the wider social contact limits. Formally organised outdoor sports – for adults and under 18s - can also restart and will not be subject to the gatherings limits, but should be compliant with guidance issued by national governing bodies.

"All children will be able to access any outdoor childcare and supervised activities. Parent and child groups can also take place outdoors with a limit of 15 attendees (children under five years of age do not count towards the attendee limit.)."

It adds: "As a result of these changes, people will no longer be legally required to stay at home. Many of the lockdown restrictions, however, will remain in place. Unless an exemption already applies, it will not be possible to meet people from other households indoors and many business premises will remain shut."

The second stage - April 12

This will happen at least five weeks after step one, no earlier than April 12.

  • Indoor leisure, including gyms, will open for use individually or within household groups
  • Rule of six or two households meeting outdoors will remain in place. There will still be no mixing indoors
  • Outdoor attractions including zoos, theme parks and drive-in cinemas can reopen, along with libraries and community centres
  • Personal care premises, including hairdressers and barbers, can reopen
  • All retail, including that which has been deemed non-essential, can reopen
  • Pubs and bars will be able to serve customers outdoors
  • All children's activities will resume
  • Domestic overnight stays - staycations - will be allowed, but only with your household
  • But only self-contained accommodation providers will be allowed to reopen to you and your household
  • Funerals will be able to have 30 attendees, and weddings, with receptions, will have 15 people
  • People will be encouraged to minimise travel and holidays abroad will still be prohibited
  • Event pilots will begin
  • People should continue to work from home where they can
  • Care home residents will be able to have two named visitors
  • Parent and children groups of up to 15 can restart indoors
Brewdog is offering a free pint to all general election voters. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Businesses in the hospitality industry have called for support to be extended. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The document says: "Hospitality venues will be able to open for outdoor service, with no requirement for a substantial meal to be served alongside alcoholic drinks, and no curfew. The requirement to order, eat and drink while seated (‘table service’) will remain."

The third stage - May 17

This will happen no earlier than May 17.

  • Indoor entertainment and attractions can reopen
  • People can meet in groups of up to 30 outdoors
  • The rule of six or two households will remain in place indoors, though the government says this is subject to review
  • Domestic overnight stays will still be allowed
  • Organised indoor adult sport can resume
  • Hospitality businesses will be able to serve customers indoors
  • Most significant life events, including weddings and funerals, can have 30 people attend
  • Remaining outdoor entertainment, including performances, can resume
  • All other accommodation providers can reopen
  • Some large events will resume: indoor events can be up to 1,000 people or 50pc of a venue's capacity, outdoor events can be 4,000 or 50pc and outdoor seated events can be 10,000 or 25pc
  • International travel will be allowed - but the government has warned this will also be subject to review
People have been wanting to enjoy a final meal out before lockdown begins. Photo: Fizkes/Getty Image

Many people will be awaiting the day they can eat out in a restaurant again. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The blueprint says: "Controlled indoor events of up to 1,000 people or 50pc of a venue’s capacity, whichever is lower, will be permitted, as will outdoor events with a capacity of either 50pc or 4,000 people, whichever is lower.

"The government will also make a special provision for large, outdoor, seated venues where crowds can be safely distributed, allowing up to 10,000 people or 25pc of total seated capacity, whichever is lower."

By this point, the government said it will enable the public to "make informed personal decisions" about social contact.

"It will remain important for people to consider the risks for themselves, taking into account whether they and those they meet have been vaccinated or are at greater risk," they said.

The fourth stage - June 21

No earlier than June 21, the following changes may be made.

  • There will be no legal limits on social interaction
  • Nightclubs can reopen
  • Larger events can take place
  • There will be no legal limits on life events including weddings and funerals

Regarding events, including the likes of both weddings and music festivals, it says: "DCMS and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy have been working with representatives from industry and civil society to explore when and how events with larger crowd sizes, less social distancing or in settings where transmission is more likely (i.e. indoors), will be able to return safely.

"This includes sports events, music festivals and large weddings and conferences. Over the spring the government will run a scientific Events Research Programme. This will include a series of pilots using enhanced testing approaches and other measures to run events with larger crowd sizes and reduced social distancing to evaluate the outcomes.

"The pilots will start in April. The government will bring the findings from across different sectors and different settings to determine a consistent approach to lifting restrictions on these events. Depending on the outcome of this work, the government hopes to be able to lift restrictions on these events and sectors as part of Step 4."

A KLM plane at Norwich Airport. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Holidays abroad could go ahead from May. - Credit: Archant