The Prime Minister is said to be working on a lockdown exit strategy which would see the Government adopt a ‘staggered approach’ to removing coronavirus curbs.
The PM announced yesterday schools will not reopen before March 8 and the Government has repeatedly stressed they will be the first thing to return when measures can be lifted.
Reports suggest that non-essential shops could then be given the green light to welcome back customers a month later in April with pubs and restaurants having to wait until May.
It is unclear when businesses like hairdressers and gyms could be allowed to reopen.
Boris Johnson, pictured in Downing Street yesterday, is said to be planning to ease England’s lockdown in three stages
Non-essential shops could be allowed to reopen in April after schools have returned in March
When could lockdown be lifted under Boris Johnson’s ‘three stage’ plan?
February 15: The first formal review of the national lockdown will take place, with ministers looking at the latest data on infections, deaths and vaccination roll-out.
February 22: The PM has committed to setting out a roadmap for how lockdown will be eased.
March 8: The earliest date on which schools across England could reopen. However, the PM has warned this will be contingent on the latest data on the outbreak.
April: It is thought ministers will want to wait a month after schools have reopened before allowing any further loosening of curbs so they can consider the impact the return to classrooms will have on the R rate. However, should the numbers allow, it is thought the Government could allow non-essential shops to reopen.
May: Pubs, bars and restaurants could be allowed to welcome back customers in some form one month after the reopening of non-essential shops.
Mr Johnson has previously said there will not be a ‘big bang’ out of lockdown, cautioning the nation faces a long road back to normal life.
Any easing of lockdown will be contingent on the latest data on the spread of the disease, hospitalisation numbers and the daily death toll.
But the Government is hoping its vaccination programme will enable it to start loosening restrictions in the not too distant future.
A Whitehall source told The Telegraph: ‘If schools do open in March – and the priority is certainly to open schools first – then it will mean other things have to remain closed for some time.
‘We have to avoid the situation last time where the return of schools meant far greater household mixing across the board.
‘So that means we’d be likely to wait at least another month for nonessential retail, and a month beyond that at least for pubs and restaurants.’
It is thought the Government will want to measure the impact of reopening schools on the rate of transmission of the disease before it takes action in other areas.
The Government is aiming to have offered a first vaccine dose to all over-70s by the middle of next month.
Mr Johnson said yesterday that ‘every jab that goes in’ the Government becomes ‘more confident’ of hitting its target.
He said: ‘Since we need to give schools two weeks’ notice to re-open, it is sensible now to serve notice that we will not be able to re-open schools immediately after half-term on 22nd February.
But pubs and restaurants across the country may have to stay shut until May at the earliest
‘But if we continue to make the progress that we want to see, and that we believe we can see, then we hope to begin opening schools on Monday 8th March.’
Mr Johnson warned any timetable for easing measures will be ‘subject to adjustment’.
He said by February 15 the Government will be in a position to ‘review our progress’ and ‘judge the state of the pandemic’.
He will then set out a roadmap in the week beginning February 22 ‘not just for re-opening our schools but gradually to re-open our economy and our society and to get our lives back to as close to normal as possible’.
This post was first published on DailyMail.