What are the four steps we've got to 'pass' before all COVID rules end?

Jennifer Savin
·4-min read
Photo credit: solidcolours - Getty Images
Photo credit: solidcolours - Getty Images

From Cosmopolitan

The country has been back in lockdown since 5 January, with similar restrictions to the previous two lockdowns re-imposed (see: restaurants, bars, gyms, salons and hairdressers closing, households being unable to mix and outings limited to just essential journeys and exercise).

Now, Boris Johnson and his team of experts have outlined a "roadmap" detailing what the next four key steps are, before lockdown and all COVID-related rules will (hopefully, finally) be over for good. In layman's terms, the government have pretty much said that there needs to be at least five weeks between each of the four stages, because it takes four weeks to get sufficient metadata showing the impact of any relaxation to the rules. The earliest all rules could be lifted is 21 June.

Here, we break down what the four steps are and when they'll (hopefully) be coming into play – so long as no new variants of COVID 19 emerge, the vaccine roll out continues smoothly and the death/infection rate continues to decline at the necessary and expected rate:

Step 1 of easing out of lockdown

This initial step comes in two parts, kicking off 8 March:

  • All students return to schools and colleges

  • Secondary school students must wear masks in class as well as communal areas

  • People can meet one other person outside for recreation (not just exercise)

  • Care home residents will be allowed one regular named visitor

  • The 'stay at home' order remains in place

Then, on 29 March:

  • Outdoor gatherings of up to six people (or two households) will be allowed, including meeting in private gardens

  • Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts and outdoor swimming pools will be allowed to reopen

  • Organised outdoor sports can resume

  • The 'stay at home' order will finish but people are still encouraged to stay local

  • Work from home wherever possible will continue

  • Overseas travel is still not allowed

Photo credit: CHRIS JOUBERT - Getty Images
Photo credit: CHRIS JOUBERT - Getty Images

Step 2 of easing out of lockdown

The earliest that step 2 will begin is 12 April. As previously mentioned, it will only happen if no new variants of COVID 19 emerge, the vaccine roll out continues smoothly and the death/infection rate is continuing to decline at the necessary and expected rate:

  • Non-essential retail, hairdressers, nail salons, libraries and museums can open

  • Outdoor hospitality in pubs and restaurants allowed, but visits will still be limited to households or those following the rule-of-six

  • Most outdoor settings reopen such as zoos and theme parks to reopen

  • Gyms and indoor swimming pools will open

  • Self-catering holiday accommodation and camp sites reopen

  • Funerals with up to 30 people are allowed

  • Weddings with up to 15 people are permitted

Step 3 of easing out of lockdown

The earliest that step 3 will begin is 17 May. This will see the likes of cinemas and indoor exercise classes resume, small groups allowed to mix indoors and a bigger number when it comes to socialising outdoors too:

  • Outdoors most social contact rules will be lifted, groups can gather with a limit of up to 30 people

  • Mixing indoors will be allowed for two households, but the rule-of-six for indoor hospitality venues and elsewhere still applies

  • Cinemas, hotels and indoor exercise classes to return (along with soft play centres)

  • Gigs and sporting events should be able to resume, although venues will still be required to operate at a limited capacity

  • For the very largest outdoor seated venues (e.g. football stadiums) up to 10,000 people will be allowed to attend (or they can be filled to a quarter of the maximum capacity, whichever is lowest)

  • Up to 30 people can attend weddings, receptions, funerals and wakes

Photo credit: Thomas M Barwick INC - Getty Images
Photo credit: Thomas M Barwick INC - Getty Images

Step 4 of easing out of lockdown

The final step! The big dog! The grab-a-bloody-drink-normality-may-finally-be-resumed one! The earliest that step 4 will begin is 21 June:

  • All legal limits on social contact will be removed with the hopes of reopening the remaining closed venues such as nightclubs (THAT'S RIGHT, DA CLUB WILL BE BACK!)

  • This step will also see all wedding restrictions lifted, along with other "life events" (e.g. funerals, wakes, christenings etc.)

  • Performances with a large-scale audience (gigs, theatres etc) to hopefully resume at full capacity

Finally, there's a bit of clarity and light at the end of the tunnel, folks.

Stay safe, stick to the rules and hopefully see you on the blimmin' dance floor come June. 🤞

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