APRIL 12 will see the first major easing of Covid lockdown restrictions.
Non-essential shops and hair dressers will be able to open their doors as part of Boris Johnson's four step roadmap to freedom.
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Under the first phase, schools will have already been reopened on March 8, while March 29 will see Brits able to enjoy outdoor garden parties while following the rule of six or two household restriction.
And step two, from April 12, will see a massive drive to reopen businesses and attractions that have been forced to close their doors for the best part of a year.
All non-essential retail will be able to open their doors – including clothing shops, homeware stores and market stalls.
And in a gasp of relief for unkempt Brits, hairdressers and salons will be able to welcome customers back.
Meanwhile pubs and restaurants will be allowed to serve customers outdoors.
It comes as…
- Boris Johnson set England on a snail-paced return to freedom with Covid restrictions not fully lifted until June 21
- The PM today said he was "very optimistic" for the day when all restrictions are dropped
- A plan to lift lockdown by Easter was canned by Sage scientists
- The first whiff of freedom will begin on March 29
- Piers Morgan was this morning locked in a row with Matt Hancock after the Health Secretary demanded thanks for dealing with the pandemic
- Summer freedom could be brought to a crashing end by a fourth Covid wave, scientists have warned
Indoor leisure centres – including gyms – will be allowed to open in a few weeks.
Outdoor attractions like zoos, theme parks and drive-in cinemas will also throw open their doors.
The stay at home message will also be ditched as part of step two, however Brits will be urged to minimise their travel – also told to avoid international holidays.
From April 12, the rules will be relaxed to allow 30 people to attend funeral services while weddings and wakes will be allowed to have 15 people.
Overnight stays away from home with your household will also be back on the cards.
What will reopen on April 12?
Mr Johnson said that non-essential retailers can reopen from this date, as long as strict conditions are met.
This is understood to include:
- Clothing shops
- Homeware shops
- Toy shops
- Vehicle showrooms (other than for rental)
- Betting shops
- Tobacco and vape shops
- Electronic goods shops
- Mobile phone shops
- Auction houses (except for auctions of livestock or agricultural equipment)
- Market stalls selling non-essential goods
Other businesses that are expected to reopen as part of the plans include:
- Pubs (outdoor service only)
- Restaurants (outdoor service only)
- Gyms (indoor exercising – but no classes)
- Beauty salons
- Theme parks
- Drive-in cinemas
- Drive-in performances
- Community centres
Driving tests will also be able to start up again for people keen to get their licence while the number of care home visitors will be increased to two per resident.
Libraries and community centres will also be able to open back up, with the roadmap saying: "All public spaces have important benefits that help create local attachments and sense of belonging to a community."
However, things still won't be completely back to to normal, with all the newly opened businesses told they must follow socially distancing rules.
The statement cautioned: "The Government will continue to enforce restrictions and require businesses to demonstrate robust strategies for managing the risk of transmission and to ensure social distancing rules are followed."
And the road map has warned step two will only be followed if the country has successfully passed four tests: the continued vaccination of the population, that jabs are working, that infection rates are not threatening the NHS and there are no threatening new strains of the bug.
Timeline for businesses reopening after lockdown
PRIME Minister Boris Johnson has outlined his roadmap for easing England out of lockdown.
Businesses will be allowed to reopen on the following dates, as long as the "four steps to freedom" are met. Here's what we know so far:
- Hospitality outdoors
- Self-catered staycations with one household
- Indoor hospitality
- Indoor exercise gyms
- Bingo halls
- Sports stadiums to reopen but capped to 10,000 fans
And Matt Hancock today warned "it's on all of us" to ensure the UK is able to hit the roadmap dates.
He said: "Right now we need to keep doing what we're doing and staying home to make sure we can keep the rates coming down as we roll the vaccine programme out.
"This is only possible because of the vaccine roadmap which has been amazing, but it's also vital everybody plays their part as they have been doing during lockdown."
It is hoped the country’s 54 million adults will be offered a jab by the end of July with the most vulnerable having received both vaccine doses by May.
Scientists have also warned the summer freedoms might be forced to be capped by a fourth Covid wave.
Martin Hibberd, a professor of emerging infectious disease, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “Looking at the modelling, I have a worry that September this year will be very similar to September last year.”
It comes after it was revealed plans to lift the Covid lockdown by Easter were reportedly canned after Sage scientists warned it would cause 91,000 extra deaths.
A proposal to reopen outdoor pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops by the Easter Bank Holiday weekend – with all curbs gone in April – was among several considered.
Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance spoke of his support for the gradual approach taken by PM Boris Johnson, saying: "The sooner you open up everything, the higher the risk of a bigger resurgence.
"The slower you do it, the better."
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