The "roadmap to freedom". Key points from the announcement on 22 February

by Martin Malone

So, what are the key elements of the “roadmap” (why not just a “map” or “plan”) for the next few months?

I expect that most readers of this post will, like me, have watched or listened to the Prime Minister’s speech to Parliament and/or his press conference this evening. There’s a lot to take in. So, here are the key points. Bear in mind that the dates are the earliest that the proposed changes will take place and are subject to the following four conditions:

  • The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully;
  • Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated;
  • Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS; and
  • The assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants of concern.

My summary is based on the 68-page Government response which you can read here:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/963491/COVID-19_Response_-_Spring_2021.pdf

There are four steps.

Step 1

Part 1 – 8 March

  • Schools and colleges open for all students including practical higher education courses. Face masks for secondary school students and above.
  • Recreation or exercise outdoors with household or one other person.
  • Wraparound childcare
  • Stay at home
  • Funerals (30), wakes and weddings (6).

Part 2 – 29 March

  • Rule of 6 or two households outdoors (including private gardens). No household mixing indoors.
  • Outdoor sport and leisure facilities (e.g. golf and tennis).
  • Organised outdoor sport (children and adults).
  • Minimise travel.
  • No holidays.
  • Outdoor parent and child groups (up to 15).

Step 2 – no earlier than 12 April

  • Indoor leisure (including gyms) open for use individually or within household groups.
  • Rule of 6 or two households outdoors.
  • No household mixing indoors.
  • Outdoor attractions open, including zoos, theme parks and drive-in cinemas.
  • Libraries and community centres open.
  • Personal care premises open
  • All retail open.
  • Outdoor hospitality open.
  • All children’s activities, indoor parent and child groups up to 15 open.
  • Domestic overnight stays (household only).
  • Self-contained accommodation (household only).
  • Funerals (30), wakes, weddings, receptions (15).
  • Minimise travel.
  • No international holidays.
  • Event pilots begin.

Step 3 – no earlier than 17 May

  • Indoor entertainment and attractions.
  • 30 person limit outdoors.
  • Rule of 6 or two households indoors (TBC).
  • Domestic overnight stays.
  • Organised indoor adult sport.
  • Most significant life events (30).
  • Remaining outdoor entertainment (including performances).
  • Remaining accommodation
  • Some large events: indoor 1000 or 50% (whichever lower), outdoor 4000 or 50% (whichever lower), 10,000 or 25% (whichever lower).
  • International travel (subject to review).

Step 4 – not before 21 June

  • No legal limits on social contact.
  • Nightclubs open.
  • Larger events.
  • No legal limit on all life events.

However, guidance for safe behaviours will continue, including:

  • wash hands frequently for at least 20 seconds
  • wear a face covering in enclosed environments
  • maintain space with anyone outside your household or bubble
  • meet with others outside where possible
  • minimise the number and duration of meetings with other people
  • let in fresh air
  • download the Test & Trace app
  • get a test immediately if you have any symptoms
  • self-isolate if you have symptoms, have tested positive, or you have had contact with someone who has tested positive.

No doubt this will all be analysed in great detail and I will add my own thoughts here shortly.