PM's go-ahead for haircuts, beer gardens and shopping from next week
- Credit: PA Wire
England can take its next step along the roadmap out of lockdown as planned from next Monday, the prime minister has confirmed.
When Boris Johnson announced the government's plan to ease restrictions in February, April 12 was pencilled in as the date when hairdressers, non-essential retail and indoor leisure facilities could reopen.
But this would depend upon whether officials were happy the four tests around vaccines, infection rates and new Covid-19 variants had been satisfied.
At a Downing Street press conference on Monday, Mr Johnson confirmed those criteria had been met and step two of the roadmap can proceed.
He said: "The net result of your efforts and of course the vaccine rollout is that I can today confirm that from Monday April 12, we will move to step two of our road map.
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"Reopening shops, gyms, zoos, holiday campsites, personal care services like hairdressers and of course beer gardens and outdoor hospitality of all kinds.
"And on Monday 12, I will be going to the pub myself and cautiously but irreversibly raising a pint of beer to my lips."
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Mr Johnson said the lockdown changes in England were "fully justified" but urged the public not to be complacent.
"We can see the waves of sickness afflicting other countries and we've seen how this story goes.
"We still don't know how strong the vaccine shield will be when cases begin to rise, as I'm afraid they will, and that's why we're saying please get your vaccine or your second dose when the turn comes.
"And please use the free NHS tests even if you don't feel ill."
The Prime Minister said he did not think, based on the current data, that there would be any deviation from his road map out of lockdown.
Meanwhile, it is "vital" that people take up the offer of a second vaccine dose to increase their level of protection against Covid-19, England's chief medical officer has said.
Professor Chris Whitty told the Downing Street press conference on Monday that data from across the UK showed an estimated 60% reduction in symptomatic disease in those who had been vaccinated.
He added there was also an 80pc reduction in hospitalisations among those who had received their first dose.
Prof Whitty said: "That makes two points, firstly that these vaccines are highly effective, but secondly, they are not completely effective.
"And it is absolutely essential that everybody, as the Prime Minister has said, who is called for a second booster dose goes to take that offer up because it will increase the level of protection and almost certainly increase the duration of protection as well."
Which businesses can reopen?
Retail outlets deemed 'non-essential' will be allowed to reopen their doors from Monday, April 12, though some high street favourites in Norwich are no longer around to join that.
Personal care businesses such as hairdressers, barbers, beauty and nail salons will also be able to welcome customers once again.
And indoor gyms and spas can open, though saunas and steam rooms will have to wait at least another five weeks.
Pubs and restaurants will be able to serve customers outside where possible. This time there is no requirement for a 'substantial' meal to be served alongside alcohol and no curfew, though people will need to be seated while eating or drinking.
Other outdoor attractions can begin operating again, such as zoos, theme parks, drive-in cinemas and other drive-in performances.
All of these premises must continue to ensure social distancing is adhered to. Indoor settings must only be visited alone or with household groups, while outdoor settings remain limited to six people or two households.
What else is changing?
Overnight stays away from home in England will be allowed, while self-contained holiday lets and accommodation can reopen. They must only be used by members of the same household or bubble, however.
Residents in care homes can now have two different visitors, where they had previously been limited to just one.
Indoor parent and child groups of up to 15 people – not including children under five – can restart.
Up to 30 people will be able to attend funerals to say a final goodbye to loved ones, while other commemorative events like weddings, outdoor receptions and wakes can have up to 15 people.
And a Covid-status certification system will be developed over the next few months, which the government says will allow higher-risk settings to reopen more safely and with more people.
It will take into account vaccination, a recent negative test or natural immunity (based on a positive test in the last six months). Pilots will take place from the middle of this month.
What's still to come?
Changes to social contact will still have to wait until at least May 17, when the government says it will look at easing limits on seeing and interacting with friends and family.
It is at this point when the rule of six may be extended to indoor settings.
Pubs and restaurants will have to wait at least another five weeks until they can welcome customers indoors again. It is hoped most other indoor businesses will be able to reopen by the middle of May.
May 17 is also when the rest of the accommodation sector, such as hotels and B&Bs, may be able to reopen.
This is also the mooted date for the resumption of indoor performances – to a socially-distanced crowd – while large outdoor arenas like Carrow Road may be able to welcome a crowd up to a quarter of its 27,244 capacity.
By June 21, it is hoped all legal limits on social contact will be removed, while remaining businesses such as nightclubs might finally be able to welcome customers once again.