Yesterday evening (22nd February 2021) UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed the UK government’s plans to ease lockdown restrictions, put in place by the COVID-19 Pandemic.
So, what do we now know? To make everything nice and easy we have summarised the key points for business owners from the announcement below.
When will lockdown restrictions start to ease?
8th March – Lockdown restrictions will begin to be loosened from the 8th March when all primary and secondary school children will be allowed to return. You will also be allowed to meet with one additional person outside (groups of two) for a coffee, drink, or picnic.
When will businesses be allowed to return?
12th April – Some businesses will be able to begin to return. These include:
- Non-essential retail, hairdressers, and some public buildings
- Outdoor settings like beer gardens, zoos, and theme parks
- Swimming pools and gyms
- Self-contained holiday accommodation, such as self-catering lets and camp sites
However, social distancing measures will still be in place and there must still be no indoor mixing between different households at this moment in time.
17th May – On the 17th May at the earliest most social distancing rules will be lifted outside and up to 6 people or two households can meet indoors. At this point indoor hospitality and hotels can also be opened to the public.
21st June – This is the earliest date that all social restrictions could be lifted, and the final remaining business sectors can be allowed to open.
Are these dates set in stone? And what needs to happen for lockdown restrictions to continue to ease?
The 8th of March and the 12th April do seem to be concrete, providing there is not a huge resurgence of COVID-19 cases before then. For all these dates however the four conditions must continue to be met:
- Vaccine Programme continues to go to plan and there are no delays in the supply chain or in distribution
- Evidence shows that the vaccines are reducing the number of deaths and people requiring treatment in hospital
- Infection rates continue to fall
- New variants do not change the risk of lifting restrictions
Will there be any additional support or extensions of current schemes?
No new lockdown support or extensions to existing programmes were announced. But these are expected to be revealed by Rishi Sunak in the budget next week. There are some reports that the Furlough Scheme will be extended until the summer, but this has not been confirmed yet.