The Prime Minister is expected to today announce major changes to lockdown restrictions in England from 17 May.
Boris Johnson will hold a press conference in Downing Street at 5pm as experts declare that the nation is in a “strong position” to go ahead with the easing of Covid restrictions.
No 10 has confirmed that ‘Step 3’ of the roadmap, which also includes the reopening of indoor hospitality, will take place following a further review of the data and the four tests.
But although most social contact rules outdoors will be lifted, gatherings of more than 30 will remain illegal.
There are at least five weeks between each step out of lockdown - allowing for four weeks to collect data and then a week for businesses to prepare to reopen.
Latest figures show a third of UK adults are now fully vaccinated against Covid, with over 17.5m people having received both jabs.
In Step 3, all of the most high-risk sectors will be able to reopen, with Covid-secure guidance in place.
This includes the reopening of:
- remaining outdoor entertainment, such as outdoor theatres and cinemas
- indoor entertainment, such as museums, cinemas and children’s play areas
- remaining accommodation, such as hotels, hostels and B&Bs
- adult indoor group sports and exercise classes
- some large events, including conferences, theatre and concert performances and sports events
- international travel, subject to review
- weddings, receptions, funerals, and commemorative events, including wakes, can also go ahead from this date with up to 30 attendees
- a broader range of stand-alone life events will also be permitted, including bar mitzvahs and christenings.
- hugs with family and friends are also expected to be allowed from next week
The UK government published its ‘green list’ of holiday destinations last week, ahead of the reopening of foreign travel on May 17.
A new risk-based traffic light system will be introduced from this date, which will see countries ranked as either red, amber or green.
This rating will be based on a range of factors, including the proportion of the population that has been vaccinated, rates of Covid infection, emerging new variants, and the country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.
Travellers returning to the UK from ‘green’ rated countries will not be required to self-isolate, although pre-departure and post-arrival Covid tests will still be needed.
Those returning from counties classed as ‘amber’ or ‘red’ will be required to self-isolate or enter quarantine.
Popular holiday destinations, including Spain, France and Greece, are not on the green list, although the government will review the list every few weeks.
The Covid alert level in the UK has now been downgraded to ‘level 3’ after a “consistent” fall in cases, hospital admissions and deaths.
The four chief medical officers of the UK have said the threat level should be lowered from ‘level 4’ to ‘level 3’, thanks to the success of the vaccination programme and social distancing restrictions.
This means that the epidemic is in general circulation, but transmission of the virus is no longer deemed to be high or rising exponentially.
The UK Covid-19 threat level has not been below level 3 since the start of the pandemic and the last time it was at this level was mid September 2020.
The threat level was raised to its highest level – level 5 – on January 4 when officials raised concerns the NHS was at risk of being “overwhelmed”. It was downgraded to level 4 in February.