At last, there is a roadmap out of lockdown with defined segments. The incredible efficiency of the vaccination roll-out is creating a population that is protected from infection and this means that life can begin to return to normalcy by June 31 – all being well.
PM Boris Johnson was keen to stress that
“This is a one way road to freedom. We will be guided by the data and the progress that is made. It is crusial that the process is cautious and irriversible.”
So, assuming the numbers of infections and fatalities continues to fall as predicted then the following process can unfold.
When: March 8
Step One: Back to School and visits to care home
Education is taking precedence and all students in England can go back to school.
The elderly in care homes will be able to have a visit from a relative. Just one visitor per patient as long as they are wearing PPE and have a negative coronavirus test.
Socialising one on one outside will be allowed.
When: March 29
Step two – Rule of six – Back together for Easter
Rule of Six will be resurrected, allowing six people from up to six households to socialise. You will also be able to drive out of your local area to see family and friends and the “stay at home” message will be switched to “stay local”.
It will also be fine to play golf, or else real sports outdoors.
When: April 12
Step three: Hospitality begins to open up.
April will herald in the opening up of hospitality operating outdoors. So that means enjoying food and drink in beer gardens and rooftop dining will be possible. Non-essential retail can finally reopen and this includes hairdressers, beauty salons and public buildings.
It may even be possible to staycate in Wales. Welsh First Minister has indicated that the tourism industry may be open in time for Easter, though this will not be the case in England under current plans. However self-contained accommodation may be able to open.
When: May 17
Step four: Restaurants and Travel
By May it’s hoped that restaurants will be open once again and serving food indoors. Hotel and B&B visits will be allowed as will indoor mixing and limited crowds at sporting events. Cinemas will be able to open too.
Staycations will be allowed – Matt Hancock has a holiday in Cornwall planned, so perhaps that’s a sure sign. International travel may be unlocked at this time.
This of course depends on the vaccine rollout in the UK and abroad as well as no emergence of vaccine busting strains of the virus.
Travel corridor deals and agreements will have to be in place. So far Israel, Greece, Cyprus and Spain are already on target to allow this to happen.
Seychelles and Sri Lanka are already open to vaccinated visitors, and European countries such as Poland, Estonia and Iceland have either already declared that vaccinated visitors will be welcome without a quarantine.
When: June 21
Step five: Socialising and nightclubs
June is earmarked as the month when all legal limits on social contact in England could also be lifted, but this will be confirmed nearer the date.
If all goes to plan, nightclubs could open, summer festivals could go ahead and mass-attendance events like concerts and football matches could be lifted.
This roadmap is proving to be good news for the travel industry with airlines and travel agents reporting a surge in bookings.
Easyjet reported 630 per cent surge in holiday bookings and Easyjet CEO Johan Lundgren who said in January ‘I don’t think flying will be back to normal until at least 2023’ said today that saying that he is optimistic that travel will indeed open by May 21.