What’s the proposed roadmap for lifting lockdown restrictions in England?
The new roadmap to easing lockdown restrictions is set into four main stages, which are all dependent on certain conditions being met. These conditions include the vaccine rollout going to plan, and the number of confirmed cases continuing to remain low following the national lockdown. It should be noted that if these conditions are not met for whatever reason, the stages may be delayed until a later date.
Stage One: Schools to reopen, outdoors sports to recommence
Stage one is split into two parts. On 8 March 2021, Johnson unveiled his plans to reopen schools. Many of the other lockdown restrictions already in place will remain the same, however two people from different households will be able to meet in an outdoor space for recreation which can include a ‘coffee on a bench’. This has changed from the prior rule in which members of the public could only meet up with one other person for exercise only.
On 29 March 2021, part two of stage one will commence, at which point people will be allowed to meet outside in the ‘rule of six’. The ‘Stay at home’ rule will change to ‘Stay local’, and formally organised outdoor sports can restart.
Stage two: Non essential shops to reopen
The Prime Minister has stated this will occur ‘no earlier’ than 12 April, subject to the four tests providing satisfactory results. In this stage, all shops will be allowed to reopen, along with gyms, community centres and libraries. Restaurants and pub gardens will be allowed to serve customers outdoors.
Stage three: People can meet in groups of up to 30 outdoors
In a bigger leap, this stage will see greater freedom, with up to 30 people being allowed to meet outdoors for weddings or other life events. People may begin to meet indoors under the rule of six, and indoor entertainment venues such as museums and cinemas may open. Adult indoor group sports and exercise classes can start up again in stage three.
Stage four: All legal limits on social contact removed
This stage is completely dependent on the success of the former three stages. During stage four, all legal limits on social contact will be removed, including the limits on attendees at weddings, funerals and other life events. Alongside this, nightclubs will be allowed to reopen, with the intention that things will slowly begin to return to normal.
For more information about any of the above stages, check out the government website.
What are the four tests these stages are dependent on?
Each stage is a minimum of five weeks apart in order to allow tests so the government can monitor the success of each stage. In order to progress to the next stage, four conditions must be met:
- Vaccine rollout programme stays on track
- The number of fatalities or hospital admissions remains low
- Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospital admissions
- No new coronavirus variants pose a new unforeseen risk.
Sport England’s response to the announcement
Chief Executive Tim Hollingsworth has reacted positively to the Prime Minister’s announcement, in which it was confirmed children and young people will be able to take part in sport and activity at school, whilst adult sports will begin follow shortly after from 29 March.
The Prime Minister’s roadmap for the return of sport and physical activity is very welcome and a clear recognition of how important it is to the nation’s physical and mental health,” said Tim.
“The prioritisation of the reopening of schools will give children and young people important opportunities to take part in and feel the benefit of PE and school sport, and… the return of outdoors sports for all ages at the end fo March is a really positive step.”
For the full Sport England response, click here.