The government has set out their roadmap for ending lockdown in a 60 plus page document.
The document, however, warns that vaccines on their own may not be enough to prevent a significant proportion of people being infected whilst the restrictions are lifted.
The government’s aim would be to end the pandemic even if COVID becomes endemic.
Let’s look at the roadmap and understand what this means:
The first opening will be that of schools on March 8.
After school activities, sports will also restart.
Most higher education students, however, will have to wait longer but those on practical courses such as medicine will be allowed back.
However, the rest will have to wait following a review after Easter.
People will be allowed to meet socially one on one outdoors rather than having to exercise together and care home residents will be allowed visits.
From March 29th, small groups will be allowed outdoors with an unlimited number of people from two households or up to six from three or more households being able to meet outdoors. This will let families gather in gardens for lunch on Easter Sunday.
The government stay at home order will be lifted and people will be asked to reside and stay in their local area.
Towards the end of March organised sport with tennis courts, football pitches, outdoor pools and golf courses will be allowed to reopen.
The work from home will still be continued if possible and going to second homes or on holiday abroad will still be banned.
From April 12th shopping, getting a haircut, visiting an art gallery will be possible.
Non-essential retail, personal care services, libraries and museums are all preliminarily entitled to reopen on this date.
Households still will not be allowed to mix indoors, so any visiting of shops or a museum with a friend will not be allowed.
Socialising will, however, be allowed to the outdoor tables of pubs and restaurants. There will be no curfew and pubs and bars will not be required to serve food.
Gyms and indoor pools will be allowed to reopen but for households and individually.
Zoos, theme parks, campsites and self-catering holiday homes will be allowed to open.
Funerals will be allowed for up to 30 people attending, and the number permitted to attend weddings will now rise from 6 to 15. Piloting of larger events with larger crowd sizes and reduced social distancing using testing will be piloted.
From May 17th gatherings of up to 30 people will be allowed outdoors and two households or six people will be allowed to mix indoors.
Pubs, restaurants will be able to serve food and drink indoors.
Cinemas, play areas, hotels and bed and breakfasts will be allowed to reopen.
Adult indoor group sports will be allowed to take place.
Cultural and sporting events will resume.
Theatres, concert halls and other large venues will be allowed to reopen but larger venues will only be able to put on shows with a maximum capacity of 1000 or until they are half full, whichever figure is lower.
Outdoor venues will be allowed to reopen with a capacity of up to 4000 people or half full, whichever is lower.
Weddings will be allowed to go ahead as will baptisms and bar mitzvahs, but with a maximum of 30 guests only.
June 21, the summer solstice will hopefully result in an easing of all restrictions.
Nightclubs may reopen and late summer festivals may be allowed to go ahead.
It is hoped that all limits on social contact will be removed and advice and guidance will replace legal constraints.
There should be no limit on wedding guests or any other large celebrations.
Hopefully by this time the vast majority of adults will have been vaccinated and if this is not the case, restrictions may be put in place for a longer time.
So what could delay the lifting of these restrictions?
- The vaccine programme.
- New vaccine resistant strains of the virus.
- Pressure on the National Health Service.
- Scientists assessing the effects.
- Testing capacity.
The London General Practice looks forward to this roadmap to the end of lockdown.
Dr Paul Ettlinger
BM, DRCOG, FRCGP, FRIPH, DOccMed