What's the roadmap for lifting lockdown?

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A "roadmap" for easing Covid restrictions in England has been announced.

After the first stage in March, further lifting of the rules will happen if certain conditions are met - such as the vaccine rollout going to plan. The aim is for all restrictions to be lifted, which will happen by 21 June at the earliest.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has also announced details of Scotland's path out of lockdown, with restaurants and non-essential shops opening on 26 April at the earliest. Northern Ireland and Wales will outline their plans in the coming weeks.

How will lockdown be lifted in England?

Stage one is in two parts:

8 March

  • All schools and colleges will reopen
  • University students can return for practical courses. There will be a review by the end of the Easter holidays for all other students
  • Face coverings are recommended in class for secondary school students and also for parents and staff in primary schools
  • Wraparound childcare can also return for vulnerable pupils and where it is needed for parents or carers to go to work, support groups or to seek medical care
  • Two people from different households can meet outside for recreation, which can include "a coffee on a bench"
  • One nominated person can visit care homes, but will need PPE, a lateral flow test and to "keep physical contact to a minimum"

29 March

  • People will be allowed to meet outside, either with one other household or within the "rule of six", including in private gardens
  • The stay at home rule will end, but the government will urge people to stay local as much as possible
  • Outdoor sport facilities will reopen, including golf courses and tennis and basketball courts
  • Formally organised outdoor sports can also restart
  • Parents and children groups can return but are capped at 15 and must be outdoors. Indoor groups can take place for vulnerable children and where parents need the groups to go to work
  • Weddings attended by up to six people can take place in any circumstances
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Stage two

No earlier than 12 April:

  • All shops allowed to open
  • Restaurants and pub gardens will be allowed to serve customers sitting outdoors, including alcohol
  • Gyms and spas can reopen for individuals and households
  • Hairdressers, beauty salons and other "close contact services" can reopen
  • UK domestic holidays away from home permitted, with self-contained accommodation able to reopen for use by members of the same household
  • Children allowed to attend indoor play activities, with up to 15 parents or guardians allowed to join them
  • Zoos, theme parks and drive-in cinemas can reopen
  • Libraries and community centres can reopen
  • Weddings attended by up to 15 people can take place
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Stage three

No earlier than 17 May:

  • People can meet in groups of up to 30 outdoors
  • Six people or two households can meet indoors
  • Pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues can seat customers indoors
  • Up to 30 people can meet to celebrate weddings or other life events, like christenings
  • Remaining outdoor entertainment, such as outdoor theatres and cinemas can open
  • Indoor entertainment such as museums, theatres, cinemas and children's play areas can open
  • Performances and large events will be subject to limits though. For indoor events they can be at half capacity or 1,000 people, and outdoors they can be at half capacity or 4,000 people - whichever is lower. For large venues (at least 40,000 capacity) up to 10,000 will be allowed to attend
  • Hotels, hostels and B&Bs can reopen
  • International leisure travel will resume no earlier than 17 May
  • Adult indoor group sports and exercise classes can start up again
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Stage four

No earlier than 21 June:

  • All legal limits on social contact will be removed
  • No legal limits on the number of people who can attend weddings, funerals and other life events. From April, the government will run pilots for events such as large weddings, festivals and work conferences. This will help to determine how measures such as enhanced testing might allow large groups to attend without social distancing
  • Nightclubs will be allowed to reopen
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What are the four tests for easing restrictions?

Each stage will be a minimum of five weeks apart. Four conditions must be met at each stage before proceeding to the next one:

  • The coronavirus vaccine programme continues to go to plan
  • Vaccines are sufficiently reducing the number of people dying with the virus or needing hospital treatment
  • Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospital admissions
  • New coronavirus variants do not fundamentally change the risk of lifting restrictions

Read the current lockdown rules:

How are lockdown rules changing in Scotland?

Changes in Scotland are likely to be a minimum of three weeks apart and are subject to certain conditions being met.

From 22 February:

  • Early learning, childcare and primary school years one to three can return
  • Secondary school students can go into school for "essential practical work"
  • Universities and colleges can bring back up to 5% of their students, where face-to-face teaching is critical
  • Care home visiting restrictions will be eased, to help residents to see friends and relatives

From 15 March:

  • Remaining primary school years - four to seven - will return, with some of the oldest secondary school pupils returning at least part-time
  • Outdoors non-contact group sports for 12 to 17 year-olds will resume
  • Outdoor mixing between four people from up to two households allowed

5 April:

  • Stay at home rules will be lifted
  • At least six people from two households can meet outside
  • Places of worship can re-open with restricted numbers of attendees
  • The final phase of school return, if required
  • More shops can re-open and non-essential click-and-collect can resume

26 April: (if priority groups one to nine have been offered the vaccine):

  • Scotland will return to the "tiers" system of local restrictions. The whole country will start in level three if the "data allows". This includes an easing of travel restrictions
  • Non-essential shops, bars and restaurants and services like gyms and hairdressers can re-open
  • Non-essential work in other people's homes can take place

How are lockdown rules changing in Wales?

In Wales, four people from a maximum of two households can now meet outdoors for exercise.

"It does mean exercise, not socialising," announced First Minister Mark Drakeford.

He also said weddings and civil ceremonies could resume from 1 March.

Children aged three to seven have returned to school. It's hoped older primary age groups - and secondary school pupils preparing for exams - will return on Monday 15 March.

The next review of Wales lockdown rules is due around 12 March.

How are lockdown rules changing in Northern Ireland?

Northern Ireland has extended its lockdown until 1 April, with a review of current measures on 18 March.

Primary school children in years 1-3 are due to return on 8 March, and secondary school pupils in years 12-14 on 22 March. But First Minister Arlene Foster has said she hopes the Stormont executive can "revisit" that timetable.