The COVID pandemic

The government road map

This plots a route out of the current COVID restrictions. Here is a summary of the key dates, but bear in mind, things may change depending upon the circumstances.

From 29 March

  • People will be allowed to meet outside - including in private gardens - in groups of up to six, or as two households (with social distancing)
  • The stay-at-home rule is ending, although the government is urging people to stay local as much as possible; holidays away from home are still not allowed
  • Outdoor sport facilities will reopen, including golf courses, tennis and basketball courts, and outdoor swimming areas
  • Formally organised outdoor sports can restart
  • Weddings can take place, attended by up to six people
Stage two (no earlier than 12 April)
  • All shops allowed to open, along with close-contact services, including hairdressers and beauty salons
  • Restaurants and pubs allowed to serve food and alcohol to customers sitting outdoors
  • Gyms and spas can reopen, as can zoos, theme parks, libraries and community centres
  • Members of the same household can take a holiday in England in self-contained accommodation
  • Weddings attended by up to 15 people can take place
Stage three (no earlier than 17 May)
  • People can meet in groups of up to 30 outdoors
  • Six people or two households can meet indoors
  • Pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues can seat customers indoors
  • Up to 30 people can attend weddings or other life events, like christenings
  • Remaining outdoor entertainment, such as outdoor theatres and cinemas can open
  • Indoor entertainment such as museums, theatres, cinemas and children's play areas can open
  • Performances and large events can restart, but with limits on audience numbers
  • Hotels, hostels and B&Bs can reopen
  • International leisure travel may resume
  • Adult indoor group sports and exercise classes can restart
Stage four (no earlier than 21 June)
  • All legal limits on social contact will be removed
  • No legal limits on the number of people who can attend weddings, funerals and other life events
  • Nightclubs will be allowed to reopen

What are the four tests for easing restrictions?

  • The coronavirus vaccine programme continues to go to plan
  • Vaccines are sufficiently reducing the number of people dying or needing hospital treatment
  • Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospital admissions
  • New coronavirus variants do not fundamentally change the risk of lifting restrictions

There is good news. The following was reported on the BBC News site

Covid vaccines cut risk of serious illness by 80%

By Nick Triggle and Michelle Roberts

BBC News

A single shot of either the Oxford-AstraZeneca or the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid jab reduces the chance of needing hospital treatment by more than 80%, an analysis in England shows.

The Public Health England data showed the effect kicked in three to four weeks after vaccination.

It was based on people aged over 80 who were the first to receive the jab.

Government scientists hailed the result, but stressed that two doses were needed for the best protection.

It comes after similar findings were published by Scottish health authorities last week, which they hailed as "spectacular".

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told a Downing Street briefing on Monday the latest vaccine results were "very strong".

He added: "They may also help to explain why the number of Covid admissions to intensive care units among people over 80 in the UK have dropped to single figures in the last couple of weeks."

Also speaking at the news conference, England's deputy chief medical officer - Prof Jonathan Van-Tam - said the data offered a glimpse of how the vaccine programme "is going to hopefully take us into a very different world in the next few months".

But he said it was "absolutely critical" that second doses "are still part of the course of immunisation against Covid-19 and no less important".

Prof Van-Tam stressed there was a "significant likelihood" that a second dose of a vaccine would "mature your immune response, possibly make it broader and almost certainly make it longer than it would otherwise be in relation to a first dose only."

Vaccinated