People urged to ‘Stay Local’ as restrictions start to ease
The second phase of the Government’s road out of lockdown came into force today (March 29th) … and it is a significant step forward as England starts to move from the shadows cast by the pandemic.
From today, the rule of six returns, with groups of up to six people allowed to meet outside and in private gardens, or as two socially-distanced households.
The “Stay at Home” mantra has also been replaced with “Stay Local” as the Government begins to ease restrictions on travel, although holidays away from home are still not allowed.
Weddings can now take place, as long as the congregation does not exceed more than six people, while outdoor sports facilities, such as golf courses, tennis courts, outdoor swimming pools and formally-organised sports can restart.
Should this phase-out be deemed successful, the Government has identified April 12th as the next key date with shops, hairdressers and gyms allowed to reopen.
However, much depends on four key factors – that the vaccination programme continues to go as planned; that vaccines are seen to be sufficiently reducing the number of COVID-linked deaths or people needing hospital treatment; infection rates have not surged; and that new coronavirus variants do not “fundamentally change the risk of lifting restrictions”.
If all goes to plan, this is how lockdown will be eased further:
Stage Two (no earlier than April 12th)
All shops allowed to open, along with close-contact services such as hairdressers and beauty salons.
Restaurants and pubs allowed to serve food and alcohol to customers sitting outdoors.
Gyms and spas to re-open, along with zoos, theme parks, libraries, and community centres.
Members of the same household can take a holiday in England as long as it is in self-contained accommodation.
Weddings, attended by up to 15 people, can take place.
Stage Three (no earlier than May 17th)
People can meet in groups of 30 outdoors.
Six people, or two households, can meet indoors.
Pubs, restaurants, and other hospitality venues can seat people indoors.
Remaining outdoor entertainment and indoor venues – such as theatres, cinemas, museums and play areas – can start to reopen.
Performances and large events can restart, but with limited audience numbers.
Hotels, hostels and B&Bs can reopen.
International leisure travel may resume.
Adult indoor group sports and exercise classes can restart.
Up to 30 people can attend weddings or other life events.
Step four (no earlier than June 21st)
All legal limits on social contact will be removed, with no limits on numbers attending weddings and life events.
Nightclubs will be allowed to reopen.