Having seen the effect the past 12 months have had on individual livelihoods, morale, businesses, and the fabric of our communities, I am keen to see a return to something like our former daily lives as quickly as is safe to do so. Gradually, as the successful national vaccination programme is taking hold, and the prevalence of the Coronavirus is falling steeply, the country can emerge from its enforced hibernation.
But it is essential that we have a clear, planned and well managed pathway back to a sustainable normality in the continued presence of the disease, which the Government’s support of Oxford University and Astrazeneca, and its early and inspired policy of investment in multiple other international efforts to develop vaccines, has ensured we can contain, although not eliminate. I very much welcome that on 8 March, all schools in England will open, both primary and secondary, and that residents of care homes will finally be allowed to receive visits from their families.
No earlier than 29 March, six people from six different households can meet outside and outdoor organised sports for both adults and children will resume. This is for both socially distanced sports like golf and tennis and team sports like football.
On or just after 12 April, all non-essential shops will be allowed to open, and pubs and restaurants can start serving once more but only outside.
On or about 17 May, Hotels and B&Bs can open, as can indoor sports, gym classes and entertainment venues like cinemas and theatres.
Weddings, receptions, wakes, funerals, and other events such as christenings will be allowed to be attended by up to 30 people.
By 21 June, it is hoped that the remaining restrictions will be lifted, and society will have returned to as close to normal as is possible.
I would have preferred to have seen a faster reopening of our retail, hospitality and tourist sectors but what is most important is that local people and businesses should have the certainty and predictability this plan affords, and it is sensible to be cautious in removing ourselves from what must be the last lockdown.
As the Prime Minister has said, once restrictions are lifted, this must be irreversible.
The full roadmap can be read here: https://www.gov.uk/.../publ.../covid-19-response-spring-2021