How and when will Covid-19 lockdown restrictions be eased?

Business leaders have reacted to the government's plans to relax the third coronavirus lockdown. 

The prime minister has announced his road map of when shops and businesses can reopen - Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Prime minister Boris Johnson declared the "the end really is in sight" as he announced the country's road map out of lockdown - but what are the key dates?

The Prime Minister told MPs the approach was "cautious but also irreversible", with the impact of the vaccination programme replacing the need for lockdown measures.

He said a "wretched year would give way to a spring and a summer that will be very different and incomparably better".

So what does it all mean for students, businesses and families? 

Schools

All school pupils in England will return to class from March 8, the prime minister has confirmed.

But the return of students in secondary schools and colleges could be staggered due to the logistics of mass testing.

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Secondary school and college students will be tested for Covid-19 four times over the first two weeks of term and they will then be asked to carry out the rapid coronavirus tests at home twice a week.

Pupils in secondary schools and colleges will be asked to use a lateral flow device when they return in a fortnight - and if they test negative, they will be allowed to resume face-to-face classes.

Socialising

Socialising in parks and public spaces with one other person will also be permitted from March 8. 

A further easing of restrictions will take place on March 29 when the school Easter holidays begin - with larger groups of up to six people or two households allowed to gather in parks and gardens.

From May 17 at the earliest, two households or groups of up to six people will be allowed to mix indoors. 

From June 21 at the earliest, all remaining restrictions on social contact could be lifted.

Sport

In the second part of step one - not before March 29 - organised outdoor sports for children and adults can return, and outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts can reopen.

At step two, which would be from April 12 at the earliest, use of indoor leisure facilities for individuals or household groups will be possible.

All children will be able to attend any indoor children's activity in step two, including sport, regardless of circumstance.

Alongside the partial reopening of sports venues at step three, organised indoor adult sport will be possible.

The fourth and final step of the recovery plan aims for the lifting of all restrictions on sports and entertainment events from June 21 at the earliest, "using enhanced testing approaches and other measures" which are to be trialled at pilot events starting from April.

Alan Judge celebrates after scoring his first half goal to give Town a 1-0 lead.

The reminder of Ipswich Town's season will be played behind closed doors - with the exception of any pilot events - Credit: Photo: Steve Wallerwww.stephenwaller.com

The semi-finals and the final of Euro 2020 are due to be played at Wembley on July 6, 7 and 11, while Wimbledon gets under way on June 28.

Sports venues will be able to welcome spectators back on a limited basis at step three of the recovery plan, no earlier than May 17.

At that point, larger outdoor seated venues will be given a "special provision" to allow in up to 10,000 people. For smaller outdoor venues, or those without seating, this would be capped at 4,000 people or 50 per cent of capacity, whichever is lower. For indoor venues the cap will be 1,000 people or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is lower.

It means the remainder of the EFL regular season - with the exception of any pilot events - will be played out behind closed doors, as will all but the final round of Premier League matches on May 23.

Shops, hairdressers, pubs and restaurants 

From April 12 at the earliest: shops, hairdressers, nail salons, libraries, outdoor attractions and outdoor hospitality venues such as beer gardens will reopen.

Indoor hospitality, inside pubs and restaurants, is set to open up from May 17 at the earliest, in step 3 of the road map.

By June 21, nightclubs could finally reopen. 

Gyms

Indoor gyms and leisure facilities will be able to reopen their doors in step two, but the requirements for social contact in indoor settings will continue.

This means people will only be permitted to visit a museum or exercise in a gym alone or with members of their own household.

A file picture of a Ryanair plane approaching Stansted Airport.
Photo: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

May 17 is targeted as the earliest possible date for a foreign holiday - Credit: PA

Holidays

From April 12 at the earliest, overnight stays away from home in England will be permitted, although people will still be urged to minimise domestic travel where possible.

Self-contained accommodation, such as campsites and holiday lets, where indoor facilities are not shared with other households, will be able to reopen but only for holiday lets occupied by members of the same household.

International travel rules will be reviewed, with May 17 targeted as the earliest possible date for a foreign holiday.

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