Key questions answered ahead of PM's lockdown easing announcement
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For days, speculation has been rife over what steps the Government will take to steer England out of its current coronavirus restrictions.
Here are the answers to the key questions ahead of Boris Johnson's speech to Parliament and ensuing address to the nation.
How will the announcement play out?
After spending the past week looking at data on coronavirus deaths, cases, hospital admissions and the effect of the vaccine rollout, Boris Johnson will convene a virtual meeting of his Cabinet this morning to discuss the roadmap plan.
Later in the afternoon the Prime Minister will make a statement to Parliament before hosting a televised press conference to the nation at 7pm.
The roadmap will also be published on the Government's website.
What form will the roadmap take?
Changes are expected to be rolled out in four steps.
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Before each new stage the Government will look at the Covid-related data to assess what impact each easing has had.
So what will reopen fist?
The Government has previously said it would be prioritising the reopening of schools, with March 8 the target date for the return of pupils.
It is understood that as an initial part of the first step of easing restrictions all schools will be open from this date, while outdoors after school sports and activities can also restart.
When will we be able to see friends and family again?
It is also understood that, from March 8, people will be permitted to have socially distanced one-on-one meetups with others outdoors in a public space.
How about getting together in groups?
From March 29 more social contact is expected to be permitted, with outdoor gatherings allowed either under the rule of six or between two households.
This means groups of a maximum of six people from multiple households can get together outside, with a greater number allowed if the meetup is between two households only.
The rule change is understood to be timed to coincide with the start of school holidays and to allow friends and families greater flexibility to meet outside where the risk of Covid transmission is lower.
Are any other changes expected?
Yes, from March 29 it is understood that outdoor sports facilities, for example tennis or basketball courts, will reopen.
There is also expected to be a return of organised adult and children's sport, such as grassroots football.
What will happen in future steps in the roadmap?
The longer-term picture of the Government's plans is as yet unclear.
Previous speculation placed non-essential shops alongside outdoor recreation and socialising as the next areas targeted for easing after schools.
Various reports also suggested hospitality could return at some point between the Easter weekend and May, with an initial focus on outdoor provision.
Elsewhere, it was claimed ministers were looking at plans for people who live in the same household to be allowed to go on holiday breaks together from April.
More details may yet be revealed by the Prime Minister today while much will depend on the success of the vaccine rollout and the Government's ongoing assessment of Covid-related data.
How is the Government reaching its decisions over easing restrictions?
The Prime Minister said his roadmap will contain four tests for easing restrictions.
The Government will take into account the success of the vaccines rollout, whether there is evidence they are reducing hospital admissions and deaths, the level of infection rates and the presence of any new Covid variants.
Such data will be examined ahead of each step along the road map before measures are unlocked any further.