What we know so far about England’s plan to ease COVID lockdown

LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will set out his plan on Monday to release England from its third national lockdown. The lockdown began on Jan. 4 after a more infectious variant of the coronavirus was discovered. Below is what we know so far about any easing of restrictions.

– Johnson has said the route out of lockdown will be “cautious and phased”, with schools expected to reopen on March 8. Opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer said on Sunday he agreed that all schools should try to open then.

– Care home residents will be able to receive one visitor indoors, and hold hands, from March 8.

– Health secretary Matt Hancock said on Sunday that the government would need to wait for a couple of weeks between each stage of easing to determine the impact on the population.

– The Sunday Times reported that groups of six, or two households, will be allowed to meet outside from March 29, with non-essential retail opening before the end of April. Indoor pubs and restaurants are not expected to open before May, while outdoor crowds could gather at the end of that month.

– Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi said earlier this month that Britain will provide COVID-19 vaccine certificates for its residents if they are required by other countries for holidays, although it is not planning to introduce them for use at home.

– Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have imposed their own national lockdowns and are, like England, expected to start easing the restrictions. Scottish pupils will begin returning to schools from Monday in phased returns.

– One in three adults in the UK have had their first dose of vaccine, and the government is now aiming to give a first dose to all adults in Britain by the end of July.

Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Frances Kerry

Source: Reuters