Posted: 22.02.21 at 15:12 by The Editor
As widely anticipated, the Prime Minister has confirmed a step by step approach to easing the controls of the latest coronavirus lockdown, which was imposed on January 4.
He told that the way out from the coronavirus pandemic was heading just one way, and would be led by the coronavirus data, not by any date.
That said Boris Johnson told MPs that this was a cautious and irreversible way forward to reclaiming freedoms and would come in four separate steps.
First, on March 8 : all English schools will re-open, along with all further education sites, including any university courses when practical teaching is needed.
On the same date : Two people will be allowed to meet outdoors for a chat or for exercise, although the clinical vulnerable are being advised to shield until the end of March.
From 29 March, outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households will be allowed.
Also on March 29 outdoor sports, including football, golf and basketball, will be allowed to resume.
Organised adult and children's sport, such as grassroots football, will also return.
From this date people will not be legally obliged to remain at home.
The next date for relaxation of any rules, Step Two, will not be for a further five weeks, so April 12. The Prime Minister told ministers that he hoped shops, hairdressers, gyms and outdoor hospitality will then reopen.
Step Three will be on May 17 - the date when pubs will re-open indoors, along with cinemas, hotels, hostels, theatres and concert halls and sports stadiums.
The final step, Step Four has been put in the calendar for June 21, which is also the date of the Summer Solstice, when it is hoped all limits on social contact can be lifted, so nightclubs can re-open.
Boris Johnson warned : " We cannot rule out imposing new conditions to suppress a new variant" , however he told parliament that he has sympathy with everyone who is feeling exhausted and overwhelmed adding : " The end really is in sight."
The third and current lockdown across England, was imposed as figures showed a huge increase in transmission rates due to a new variant of COVID-19.
On 4 January, there were 26,626 Covid patients in hospital in England, an increase of over 30% in just one week, with the four UK Chief Medical Officers insisting that if action was not taken to lockdown the NHS would have been overwhelmed within 21 days.
More details on the plans and dates for when more lockdown measures will be released, will be given at a televised address by Boris Johnson at 7pm this evening (February 22).