Posted: Mon 22nd Feb 2021
Non-essential retail, gyms, hairdressers and outdoor hospitality will reopen in England on 12 April if four key tests are met, the prime minister has revealed.
Announcing the lockdown easing 'roadmap', Boris Johnson said the government aims for the plan to "cautious but irreversible" with each stage led by "data not dates".
The changes are dependent on the coronavirus vaccine programme staying on track, evidence showing the vaccines are reducing deaths and need for hospital treatment, there is no surge in hospital admissions and new virus variants do not increase the risk of removing restrictions.
The four step plan begins on 8 March when all schools in England will reopen. Two people will also be able to meet in outdoor public spaces such as a park for recreation.
From 29 March, outdoor gatherings of six people or two households will be permitted, as will using outdoor sport facilities such as tennis and basketball courts.
The 'stay at home' order will also be removed on 29 March but Johnson said people should "continue to work from home where they can and minimise all travel wherever possible".
The second stage of the plan begins on 12 April at the earliest when the following will be able to reopen if the four tests are met:
Non-essential shops and personal case services such as hairdressers and nailbars.
Outdoor beer gardens can reopen for two households or the 'rule of 'six'.
Other outdoor venues such as alcohol takeaways, zoos and theme parks can reopen.
Public libraries and community centres.
Indoor leisure businesses such as gyms and swimming pools.
Self-contained holiday accommodation.
For outdoor hospitality, curfews and the requirement to eat a substantial meal will be removed but table service remains compulsory.
Step three is from 17 May. If the conditions are met, the following will apply:
Indoor hospitality can reopen for two households or the 'rule of six'.
Indoor entertainment such as museums, cinemas and children's play areas can reopen.
Remaining accomodation including hotels, holiday parks, B&Bs and hostels can reopen.
Some controlled indoor events (including conferences, theatre, concerts and sport) of up to 1,000 people or 50% of a venue's capacity, whichever is lower, will be permitted, as will outdoor events with a capacity of either 50% or 4,000 people, whichever is lower. Large, outdoor, seated venues where crowds can be safely distributed, allowing up to 10,000 people or 25% of total seated capacity, whichever is lower, can also take place.
Up to 30 people can attend weddings and funerals.
For hospitality, curfews and the requirement to eat a substantial meal will be removed but table service remains compulsory.
The fourth and final step is from 21 June when all limits on social contact will be removed and the remaining businesses, such as nightclubs, can reopen. The limits on attendance at weddings and funerals will also stop.
The full lockdown easing document says: "As restrictions ease and the economy is gradually and safely reopened, the government will carefully tailor the level of support to individuals and businesses to reflect the changing circumstances."
Chancellor Rishi Sunak will announce more details during the Budget on 3 March. Sign up to take part in Enterprise Nation's live coverage.
Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation, said: "We welcome this roadmap - and the indication that there will be a great re-opening of the economy.
"Small businesses tell us the thing they want is a safe return to work and confidence to encourage consumers to spend. This feels like a steady and considered approach which is needed.
"The commitment to continued support is also helpful. Based on this, businesses will start to make solid plans. For some, this will require testing physical retail for the first time to meet customers to whom they have sold over the past 12 months, for others it will be advice on how to build new revenue streams into their business, and for all it will require ongoing training and support on how to continue to make the most of online tools and trade."
We are keeping you updated on the latest information on how to access the government's coronavirus business support here. You can also find advice and ask a question on Enterprise Nation's coronavirus business advice hub. Follow Enterprise Nation on Twitter too for updates.