Government's lockdown easing – what do we know so far?

Prime minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVI

Prime minister Boris Johnson will announce England's roadmap to the easing of lockdown on Monday – but what is he likely to say? - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

We're all waiting eagerly for what the PM is going to announce in his roadmap to lockdown easing on Monday. But what do we know so far?

What do we already know will be announced?

Care home residents will be allowed to hold hands with a regular indoor visitor from March 8 under the Government's plan to ease lockdown restrictions in England.

Visitors will be required to take a coronavirus lateral flow test - which gives quick results - before entry and personal protective equipment (PPE) must be worn.

Residents will be asked not to hug or kiss their relatives, and guidance for care homes is expected to be published in the next fortnight.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was "pleased" that it would soon be possible for people to be "carefully and safely reunited with loved ones who live in care homes".

Meanwhile, schools look set to reopen to all pupils from March 8, with both primary and secondaries said to return in just over three weeks.

The move comes despite a coalition of education unions and professional bodies warning that a full return of all pupils would be a "reckless" course of action.

Schools are preparing for a significant toughening of measures including mandatory face masks and mass rapid testing to get pupils back into classrooms.

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Boris Johnson will set out his plans for the reopening of schools when he outlines his "road map" out of lockdown on Monday.

An update on vaccines has also been issued, in which it was announced that more than two thirds of people aged between 65 and 69 in England have received their first jab, ahead of the next phase of the programme.

People in those age ranges will continue to be inoculated, while those aged 64 will also be invited to book their appointment later in the week.

Mr Johnson is expected to announce a target for every adult over 50 to get their first jab by April 15, including those with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk.

The government also hopes to have offered all adults in the UK a jab by the end of July.

On Sunday morning, Health secretary Matt Hancock told Times Radio coronavirus restrictions will be eased with "weeks between the steps", but added it takes a few weeks for the impact of lifting measures to be seen.

Mr Hancock also said social distancing measures and the wearing of face coverings is likely to remain for a while.

He added: "I want to see it more about personal responsibility over time as we have vaccinated more and more of the population."

What else are we expecting?

Outdoor family reunions could be allowed within weeks while care home residents will be able to hold hands with a loved one again under the Government's road map for easing coronavirus restrictions.

Downing Street said it wanted to make social contact easier as soon as possible as Prime Minister Boris Johnson spends the weekend finalising plans for relaxing measures in England.

Several newspapers reported that new rules allowing two households to meet outdoors – regardless of the total number of people – are set to be introduced from April, while six people from six different households would also be able to gather.

Number 10 dismissed as speculation reports that pubs could be permitted to serve customers outdoors from April, with one national newspaper saying people could be served indoors in May.

But it's likely we'll see progression in terms of the vaccination effort. It has been reported in recent days that adults in England as young as 40 might get their first jabs within weeks.

There have been calls from industry leaders asking the government to prioritise key workers such as teachers and police officers, but advisors have said it's likely that the next phase of the rollout will still be based on age groups rather than occupation.

On Thursday it was reported that a third of all adults in Norfolk and Waveney have had their first dose of the vaccine, with the region ahead of most other in England in terms of progress made.

When are we likely to hear more?

More details of both the vaccination effort and the lockdown easing roadmap are expected to emerge over the weekend.

The prime minister will set out the blueprint for relaxing measures in England on Monday – the final details of which will be agreed at a meeting of the "Covid O" committee on Sunday.

Mr Johnson will then chair a meeting of his Cabinet on Monday, before announcing the plans to the House of Commons later that afternoon.

He is expected to lead a Downing Street press conference that evening alongside England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty and scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.

The relaxation comes amid a backdrop of promising data suggesting coronavirus infections are dropping across the UK.

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