British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said today that life in the United Kingdom will return to almost normal by June 21, after presenting the plan to exit the strict confinement that has been in force in the country for more than two months.
“We cannot continue indefinitely with the restrictions that weaken our economy, our mental and physical well-being,” Johnson told Parliament in a briefing in which he announced the expected measures.
In his speech, he stressed that it is essential that the roadmap be prudent but also irreversible.
“We are undertaking what I hope and I believe is a one-way road to freedom and this journey is possible thanks to the rhythm of the vaccination program,” he added.
The British Government’s plan is based on the fulfillment of several tests that are already being given, such as that the deployment of vaccines continues successfully, that there is evidence that these are effective enough to reduce hospitalizations and deaths in those vaccinated and that infection rates are not at risk of further increase.
According to Johnson, the plan will be at the national level and will be divided into four stages, with five weeks between each phase to assess the impact it is having on infections.
All schools in England are expected to reopen on March 8, while outdoor gatherings of up to six people or members of two households will be allowed from March 29.
As of that date, outdoor sports facilities, such as tennis and basketball courts and swimming pools, will also be able to open, as well as “formally organized outdoor sports” can resume.
From April 12, meanwhile, the second phase will take place with the reopening of non-essential stores, restaurants and pubs that will be able to serve customers outdoors, without a curfew.
Hair salons, barber shops and beauty salons will also reopen, as well as indoor leisure centers including gyms and enclosed swimming pools.
In the third phase that begins May 17, Johnson said most restrictions on outdoor gatherings will be lifted as long as the numbers on cases, hospitalizations and deaths are under control.
Dinners in pubs and restaurants may also return from May at the same time as the reopening of the hotel.
By June 21, all remaining restrictions on social contact could be lifted, bigger events could be held, and nightclubs could finally reopen for the first time in a year.
Other aspects such as return to work in person and international travel, currently restricted, do not yet have an established date, although the evaluation of a health passport is awaited.
This morning, Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi told the BBC Breakfast program that the reopening of schools was related to when the first four most vulnerable groups that were vaccinated generated antibodies.
“It is ambitious but also careful and data-driven,” he said.
England has been in its third lockdown for almost two months and has recorded more than 120,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, more than 17.5 million people received their first dose of the vaccine and, according to the British Government, by July 31 all adults will be vaccinated.
Meanwhile, Wales and Northern Ireland will establish their own approaches, with Scotland starting today to reopen schools in a phased fashion.
The United Kingdom today recorded 178 more deaths from coronavirus and 10,641 more cases
This is the lowest daily death toll on record since Sunday, December 13, when there were 144 deaths.