Prime Minister Boris Johnson has today (April 5) confirmed that the next stage of restriction easing will go ahead on April 12.
From Monday 12 April additional premises will be able to reopen – with the rules on social contact applying. Indoor settings must only be visited alone or with household groups, with outdoor settings limited to either six people or two households.
- This includes non-essential retail opening; personal care premises such as hairdressers, beauty and nail salons; and indoor leisure facilities such as gyms and spas (but not including saunas and steam rooms, which are due to open at Step 3).
- Overnight stays away from home in England will be permitted and self-contained accommodation can also reopen, though must only be used by members of the same household or support bubble.
- Public buildings such as libraries and community centres will also reopen.
- The majority of outdoor settings and attractions can also reopen, including outdoor hospitality, zoos, theme parks, drive-in cinemas and drive-in performances events.
- Hospitality venues will be able to open for outdoor service, with no requirement for a substantial meal to be served alongside alcohol, and no curfew. The requirement to eat and drink while seated will remain.
- People should continue to work from home where they can and minimise domestic travel where they can. International holidays are still illegal.
- Parent and child groups of up to 15 people (not counting children aged under five years old) can restart indoors.
- Funerals can continue with up to 30 attendees. Weddings, outdoor receptions, and commemorative events including wakes will be able to take place with up to 15 attendees (in premises that are permitted to open).
Care home residents in England will be able to receive 2 visitors indoors from Monday 12 April as Covid restrictions continue to be cautiously eased. Regular visits are being extended from one to 2 people under carefully designed conditions to prevent transmission of Covid-19. Visitors will be asked to provide a negative test result and wear PPE during the visit to keep themselves, staff and residents safe.
In the coming weeks, as testing capacity continues to increase, some visitors will be able to conduct tests at home, rather than at care homes, to help manage the flow of visitors and allow more visits to take place. Visitors who are parents will also be able to visit with babies and very young children, who will not count as one of the visitors.
The PM said: “We think these changes are fully justified by the data showing we are meeting the four tests for easing lockdown.
“But – and you know I’m going to say this – we can’t be complacent. We can see the waves of sickness afflicting other countries and we’ve seen how this story goes. We still don’t know how strong the vaccine shield will be when cases begin to rise, as I’m afraid that they will – and that’s why we’re saying please get your vaccine or your second dose when your turn comes.”
Early findings on four reviews on the safe return of major events, on social distancing, the potential role of Covid status certification, and on the resumption of international travel have also been published on the government website.
In Thanet the positive test rate per 100,000 people stands at 28.9 as of 31 March, below the UK rate of 44.
Reviews – early findings
COVID-Status Certification Review
COVID-status certification aims to provide reassurance that an individual is at reduced risk of transmission. This could allow mass events to admit more participants, increased passenger numbers and reduced border restrictions for travellers, and social distancing rules to be relaxed.
Other countries are developing their own certification systems, such as the “Green Pass” in Israel and the “digital green certificate” in the European Union. Negative tests are already required to enter the UK and many other countries and, as vaccination programmes roll out worldwide, countries have made clear they will soon require proof of vaccination in order to cross the border.
In the UK, businesses and other organisations are able to ask customers for proof of COVID-status in order to access their premises, as long as they are compliant with equalities legislation.
The Government says it will continue to explore the equity and ethical concerns bound up with any form of COVID-status certification. Vaccination is not suitable for all citizens and there are other means of demonstrating a reduced risk of transmission. The Government believes that COVID-status certification could be acquired through vaccinations, testing or natural immunity. It is also important that there are appropriate exemptions for people for whom vaccination is not advised and repeat testing is difficult.
The Government believes that there are some settings (such as essential public services, public transport and essential shops) where COVID-status certification should never be required, in order to ensure access for all.
Equally, COVID-status certification could potentially play a role in settings such as theatres, nightclubs, and mass events such as festivals or sports events to help manage risks where large numbers of people are brought together in close proximity. The Government will begin to trial COVID-status certification in certain settings, including large events, through the Events Research Programme.
It is possible that COVID-status certification could also play a role in reducing social distancing requirements in other settings which people tend to visit more frequently, for example in hospitality settings. However, the Government recognises this has significant implications for businesses and their customers, so this will be further considered in consultation with industry, as part of the review of social distancing rules
Certification will not be required for reopening as part of step 2 or step 3.
Certification has already become a feature of international travel, with the UK and many other countries requiring evidence of a negative test pre-departure as part of their border regimes.
Global Travel Taskforce
The Government hopes people will be able to travel to and from the UK to take a summer holiday this year, but it is still too soon to know what is possible.
The roadmap said that any return to international travel without a reasonable excuse, for example for holidays, would be no earlier than 17 May. Taking into account the latest situation with variants and the evidence about the efficacy of vaccines against them this may take longer.
When non-essential international travel does return it will do so with a risk-based “traffic light” system.
Countries will move between red, amber and green lists depending on the data. For the moment, the Government advises people not to book summer holidays abroad until the picture is clearer.
Events Research Programme
The Government will use the Events Research Programme, overseen by an industry-led steering group co-chaired by Sir Nicholas Hytner and David Ross and working closely with national and local public health authorities, to explore different approaches to social distancing, ventilation, test-on-entry protocols and COVID-status certification.
The Events Research Programme will carry out pilots in a series of venues to gather evidence on the transmission risks associated with different settings, and potential approaches to managing and mitigating transmission risks.
The Events Research Programme’s first phase of pilots includes:
- Hot Water Comedy Club, Liverpool (16 April)
- FA Cup Semi Final, Wembley Stadium (18 April)
- World Snooker Championship, Crucible Theatre, Sheffield (17 April – 3 May)
- Luna Cinema, Liverpool (23-25 April)
- Mass participation run, Hatfield House, Hatfield (24-25 April)
- Carabao Cup Final, Wembley Stadium (25 April)
- ACC Business Event, Liverpool (28 April)
- Circus Nightclub, Liverpool (30 April – 1 May)
- FA Cup Final, Wembley Stadium (15 May)
Social Distancing Review
The Social Distancing Review is exploring whether existing rules, designed to limit virus transmission, could be relaxed in different settings. This work is developing the safest approach to allow closer social contact between friends and family, safely enable greater capacity on transport, and reduce distance requirements within venues and workplaces.
The review is looking at key baseline measures, including how and when to safely lift or amend the 1m+ rule and related COVID-secure measures, as well as guidance on working from home.
The extent of any relaxation in social distancing measures is linked to the questions being explored by the COVID-Status Certification Review