On Monday 22nd February, Prime minister Boris Johnson announced the ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown for England. Since Christmas, the UK has been in a national lockdown. The general public has been waiting patiently for an update on when some restrictions would ease. That update came on Monday, leaving many people feeling hopeful for the months that lie ahead.
The announcement will affect all groups of people, from students and apprentices eager to get back to education, those business owners and employers who currently remain shut, and everyone else working and staying at home.
Have a read of our guide to find all the essential information:
Please note all dates are subject to change depending on the success of the vaccination programme and the infection rates at the time. The Prime Minister has stated that if it is not safe to do so, the government will not lift the restrictions.
What are the Key Dates?
The government have created a four-stage plan to successfully lead England out of lockdown and back to some form of normality.
These four stages will be at least five weeks apart to allow enough time to analyse the previous stage’s success through infection rate data and make any necessary changes.
Stage 1: (Part 1) From 8th March
- Stay at Home
- All schools and colleges to reopen
- Able to meet with another person outside to have a coffee or picnic
Stage 1: (Part 2) From 29th March
- Stay at Home lifted
- Two households or six people can meet outdoors
Stage 2: No earlier than 12th April
- Non-essential shops to reopen
- Indoor leisure facilities to open
- Outdoor attractions to open
- Hospitality can open outdoors
Stage 3: No early than 17th May
- Outdoor gatherings of up to 30 people
- Hospitality can open indoors
- Larger performances and indoor sporting events to open
Stage 4: No earlier than 21st June
- All limits on social contact lifted
- Hope to reopen all remaining venues such as nightclubs
What Does This Mean for Education?
From 8th March, all schools and colleges will reopen for face-to-face education. All primary school students will return immediately, but secondary school and college students will be slightly staggered. After the initial three tests to enable all students to return to the classroom, Students and staff will be given two rapid tests at home each week.
Universities are also able to open to some students for face-to-face learning. This will prioritise students on practical courses requiring special equipment or facilities, such as creative art students. Twice weekly testing will be available on campus.
For information and guidance for students visit our site Developing a Student
What Does This Mean for Businesses?
The impact of national lockdown on UK businesses has been immense. Many smaller businesses have been unable to cope with forced closure periods and have had to close down.
The announcement on Monday set out a date for when non-essential shops and personal care premise can reopen and hopefully remain open for good. Both of these are part of the second stage of the roadmap, to happen at the earliest on 12th April.
At this time, businesses will still have to enforce social distancing and other precautions such as hand sanitiser and masks.
Hospitality businesses will also be able to open in the second stage, for outdoor use only. There will be no curfew or no need to buy a substantial meal with a drink; however, all ordering and consumption of food and drink must happen sat down at a table.
What Does This Mean for Employment?
The current ‘Stay at Home’ message will be officially lifted from 29th March, relying on the success of the lowering infection rate up to then. However, some lockdown restrictions will still be in place; for example, people will still be encouraged to work from home where possible.
The decision on whether employees continue to work at home as we progress through each stage of the roadmap will remain with each employer. Given the success of remote and flexible working, many people may continue to work from home well into the autumn and the rest of the year.
What Does This Mean for Disabled People and Those Who are Shielding?
Last week the government announced that an additional 1.7 million people would be asked to shield in England because of Covid-19. This results from a new model for determining vulnerable people being adopted, which considers factors beyond physical health such as deprivation, ethnicity and weight.
In Monday’s announcement, the prime minister did not make it clear when clinically vulnerable people would no longer need to shield. This has been widely criticised by the disability community, who feel that the government have overlooked the tremendous struggle of shielding people.
However, the government report on the roadmap out of lockdown states, “The Government anticipates that it will no longer be necessary to advise shielding beyond the end of March 2021.” This is something which the government is expected to confirm in the coming weeks.
For disability support at work, visit our site, Careers with Disabilities.