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Earlier today the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, unveiled the Government’s ‘road map’ for reopening the country from the current lockdown.
The most important thing to note is that the proposed dates below are described as being “no earlier than”. What that means is that if things like the vaccination programme do not continue as intended, the dates for each stage of the unlocking could still slip to later in the year.
Before taking each step, the Government will review the latest data on the impact of the previous step against four tests. The tests are:
- 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.
- Our assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.
As regards travel, the first relevant stage is Step 2:
As part of Step 2, no earlier than 12th April, “self contained accommodation” (limited to household) will be permitted. Technically that is defined as “those (accommodations) that do not require shared use of bathing, entry/exit, catering or sleeping facilities”, so means things like self-catering, and presumably some campsites/caravans.
However, it is important to note that the guidance still contains the following, “(People should) minimise domestic travel where they can. International holidays will still be prohibited”.
The next stage is Step 3:
No earlier than 17th May, “Remaining accommodation, such as hotels, hostels and B&Bs”, will be reopened.
What about international travel?
The situation is still under review, but 17th May will be the earliest possible date:
“The Global Travel Taskforce will report on 12 April with recommendations aimed at facilitating a return to international travel as soon as possible while still managing the risk from imported cases and Variants of Concern. Following that, the Government will determine when international travel should resume, which will be no earlier than 17 May”.
The planned relaxation of lockdown measures is great news, but please don’t get over-excited and rush to book something, unless it is fully refundable. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see these dates slip a bit.
I’ll finish on a very positive note though – the final stage, ‘Step 4’ (basically the removal of all remaining measures), is pencilled in for 21st June. Given that it takes 3 weeks after vaccination to develop sufficient antibodies, it looks to me that the Government’s ‘unofficial’ vaccination target is now to have all adults jabbed with at least 1 dose by the end of May. That really would be a tremendous relief.