The Prime Minister has laid our his four-stage approach to lifting lockdown restrictions in England over the coming months.
The Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership has welcomed the government’s newly-announced roadmap as it provides some much needed clarity on how sectors like retail, hospitality and other valuable areas of our economy can make a gradual return to normality.
Alun Rogers, Chair of the SSLEP, said:
“Businesses and people across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire have been demonstrating remarkable efforts to pull together and navigate challenges and changing circumstances over the past year, and this roadmap is a hopeful, welcome step towards our community regaining some normality once again. We look forward to playing our part with our own campaign to support businesses to thrive and not just survive in the months ahead.”
Boris Johnson said that the ‘cautious and irreversible’ plan would see each stage measured against four tests before moving onto the next, which are:
- The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.
- Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
- Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
- Assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants.
Step 1 – 8th March – Schools will return with twice weekly testing of secondary school pupils. Residents in care homes will be allowed one regular visitor, subject to testing. People can meet one other person in public spaces for outdoor recreation (e.g. having a coffee together). After schools clubs can restart. The clinically vulnerable are advised to stay at home until the end of March.
29th March – Outdoor gatherings will be allowed for up to six people or two households, with outdoor sports facilities also able to reopen and formally organised sport will return. People will no longer be required to stay at home, but people should still work from home where possible.
Step 2 – beginning no earlier than 12th April with an announcement at least 7 days before new measures come in. The stage and further stages will depend on what the data shows.
Non-essential retail can reopen, personal care including hairdressers and nail saloons; indoor leisure facilities such as gyms will reopen as will holiday lets but only to be used by individuals or family groups.
Pubs and restaurants will begin to open outdoors; and there will be no curfew and no requirement to have substantial meals.
Zoos, theme parks and drive in cinemas will reopen as will libraries and community centres.
A task-group to produce recommendations on international travel will report by the 12th April so people can plan for the summer.
Step 3 – beginning no earlier than 17th May – subject to data
Most restrictions on meeting outdoors will be lifted, subject to a limit of 30 people.
Pubs and restaurants will be reopened indoors, as well as cinemas and children’s play areas, hostels, hotels, B&Bs. Theatres and concert halls will reopen, and sports stadiums will reopen subject to capacity limits
Larger events will be piloted using enhanced testing, subject to a review.
People will be able to see family and friends indoors subject to the rule of 6 or meeting of two households.
Step 4 – beginning no earlier than 24th June – subject to data
The aim will be to remove all legal limits on social contact and on weddings and other live events.
This will see the reopening of everything including night clubs and allow large events including theatre performances above the limits of step 3 potentially using testing.
- The Government will extend the provision of free test kits for workplaces until the end of June, and will publish a plan next month to respond to local outbreaks.
Find out more about business testing in Stoke-on-Trent
Find out more about business testing in Staffordshire
Four other reviews will be taking place:
- Will review how long there will be a need to maintain social distancing and facemasks. This will also include guidance on working from home which should continue where possible until this review is complete. Will be critical in also assessing when Parliament can return as normal.
- A review on international travel. A taskforce will report by 12th April so that people can plan for the summer.
- This will consider Covid status certification in order to enable venues to reopen safely
- This will look at the return of major events
- The government will publish a plan next month to respond to local outbreaks
The government is expected to update on business support arrangements in the spring budget on Wednesday 3rd March.