Many of our readers will be so pleased to hear Boris Johnson's address to the nation yesterday evening, outlining a four-step approach to lifting lockdown. With all non-essential retail permitted to reopen from April 12th, we can look forward to bright window displays, shelves of inviting summer products and welcoming much missed customers once again.
Over the spring, the Government will run a scientific Events Research Programme. This will include a series of pilots using enhanced testing approaches and other measures to run events with larger crowd sizes and reduced social distancing to evaluate the outcomes.
We do hope the results are positive, so we can start taking laps of our loved exhibition centres by summer.
Come 21st June, all being well and all boxes being ticked, we could be living in a very different UK, with the promise of all current legal restrictions being abolished. Let the retail revival commence!
Step One Part One: March 8
From March 8, all pupils and students will return to schools and colleges across England. So-called wrap-around childcare will also be allowed to resume, paving the way for after and before school clubs to reopen.
People will be allowed to meet one other person outside for recreation, for example, to have a picnic or to meet for coffee. Care home residents will be able to have one regular named visitor. The Government's stay at home order will remain in place, with travel for non-essential purposes still banned.
Step One Part Two: March 29
From March 29, outdoor gatherings of up to six people or a larger group from up to two households will be allowed. These gatherings will be allowed to happen in private gardens.
Outdoor sports like tennis and basketball will be allowed to reopen and people will also be able to take part in formally organised outdoor sports. It is at this point that the Government's stay at home guidance will end, to be replaced by ministers encouraging people to 'stay local'.
Step Two: April 12
Non-essential retail will be allowed to reopen as well as personal care premises like hairdressers, barbers and nail salons. Public buildings like libraries, museums and art galleries will be allowed to welcome back customers.
Meanwhile, hospitality venues and outdoor attractions like theme parks will be given the green light to reopen in some form. However, there will still be rules on household mixing: Essentially any activity which involves being indoors will be restricted to members of the same household. Pubs and restaurants will be able to reopen but at this point they will only be able to have customers outdoors. Any visits to a pub or restuarant will have to comply with the rules on social contact, so no more than two households or the rule of six. All customers at hospitality venues will also have to be seated when they order food or drink, with ordering at the bar prohibited.
Step Three: May 17
The rule of six or a larger group from up to two households will be allowed to meet. However, this will be kept under review by ministers to see if rules could be relaxed still further. This is also the point at which pubs and restaurants and other hospitality venues will be able to open indoors, with the rule of six and two household limit in place. But groups meeting outdoors at pubs will be allowed to be bigger.
Entertainment venues like cinemas and children's play areas will be able to reopen, as will hotels and B&Bs. Indoor adult sports groups and exercise classes can also reopen.
Changes will also be made to sporting and performance events in indoor venues with a capacity of 1,000 people or half full, whichever is lower, will be allowed, while outdoors a capacity of 4,000 people will be allowed or half full, whichever is lower. In the biggest outdoor stadiums, up to 10,000 fans will be allowed to attend matches or a quarter of capacity, whichever is lower.
Step Four: June 21
This is the point at which the Government is hoping to have lifted all of the remaining restrictions on social contact and to reopen sectors which have not already returned. For example, this is when night clubs could be allowed to fully reopen while restrictions on large events and performances could also be lifted. Mass-testing could be used to to reduce the risk of infection at those settings.
To find out more about the four steps, and keep up to date with Government advice visit gov.uk/coronavirus