Boris Johnson has revealed his plan to unlock the country and start returning life to normal, but with no tier system in place this time around it means the Isle of Wight will not benefit from lesser restrictions compared to the mainland.
Previously, the Island was under Tier 1 restrictions which meant life was almost normal for 140,000 Islanders. However, the Prime Minister has this afternoon (Monday) laid out a national approach to easing the lockdown restrictions which have been in force since 5th January. For the Isle of Wight, restrictions ramped up from Tier 1 to Tier 4 very quickly at Christmas.
The hard-hitting ‘stay at home’ order is being scrapped next month with children returning to school on 8th March and later in the month, the Rule of 6 will make a return. This means for the first time since Christmas families and friends will be able to legally meet. However, Boris’ 4-step plan means restrictions will still be in place as we go into June but there are hopes of normality from July onwards when all UK adults will have been offered a vaccine.
2-metre social distancing and the Rule of 6 are expected to remain in place throughout the Summer, which could spell disaster for many of the Island’s events. However, there is some positive news… Islanders will be able to mix indoors with different households from 17th May, which is much sooner than thought.
Key dates you need to know
• 8th March – Schools to return – all children but secondary school children to wear face masks in classrooms
• 8th March – 2 adults can socialise outdoors in a public place, not just for exercise
• 29th March – Rule of 6 reintroduced with ability to meet in gardens (no restriction of numbers if 2 households)
• 29th March – Restrictions on local travel lifted meaning day trips can resume but accommodation to remain closed
• 29th March – Outside sports such as tennis and golf to make a return alongside organised sport such as football
• 12th April – Non-essential retail to re-open, such as hairdressers and beauty salons plus outdoor areas in hospitality venues
• 12th April – Pubs to re-open but only allowed to serve outdoors in beer gardens etc.
• 12th April – Libraries, museums, zoos and theme parks allowed to re-open
• 12th April – Self-contained accommodation such as Airbnb’s allowed to reopen (same household only)
• 12th April – Funerals permitted with up to 30 people, wakes of 15 and weddings of 15 people
• 17th May – All pubs, restaurants, hotels, B&Bs allowed to re-open
• 17th May – Different households can mix indoors according to the Rule of 6
• 17th May – Cinemas to re-open plus other indoor entertainment such as children’s play areas, exercise classes
• 17th May – Sports stadiums re-open at 25% capacity, indoor arenas to open at 50% capacity (or 1,000 people)
• 17th May – Most social contact restrictions outdoors removed but no groups of more than 30
• 17th May – Weddings, funerals, wake and wedding receptions for up to 30 people permitted
• 17th May – Foreign holidays banned – no international travel before this date
• 21st June – All legal limits on social contact removed
• 21st June – Music festivals and other large events be permitted, possibly with mass testing (provisional)
• 21st June – Everything re-opens including nightclubs but weddings may still be limited
However, the roadmap out of lockdown is conditional on COVID cases, hospitalisations and deaths all falling and the number of vaccinations going up. The Government’s ace card is the ability to stop lifting lockdown if a new variant is discovered, meaning millions of people are once again left in limbo as to whether life will actually return to normal in 2021.
Top scientists have said today that some restrictions may be required into 2022, which could include social distancing. However, the Government hopes to review the 1m+ social distancing rule, mandatory face coverings rule and the work from home encouragement by 21st June.
If everything goes according to plan, non-essential retail businesses and pubs will be given final confirmation of re-opening around 5th April, to give preparation time for opening the doors around 12th April.
Boris Johnson will address the nation on television at 19:00 this evening. During this address, he will confirm the above dates and issue a call to the country to keep following the rules, despite the improving picture.
Ahead of that national briefing, Boris Johnson has said:
“Our priority has always been getting children back into school which we know is crucial for their education as well as their mental and physical wellbeing, and we will also be prioritising ways for people to reunite with loved ones safely.
“Our decisions will be made on the latest data at every step, and we will be cautious about this approach so that we do not undo the progress we have achieved so far and the sacrifices each and every one of you has made to keep yourself and others safe.”
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