British prime minister Boris Johnson has set out new plans to ease the COVID-19 lockdown in England, BBC News reports. The restrictions would be eased completely by April if everything works out as planned.
- Reasons to leave included “essential medical needs, food shopping, exercise and work for those who cannot do so from home,” according to BBC News.
- The lockdown came as a new variant was discovered in the country.
- “We must therefore go into a national lockdown, which is tough enough to contain this variant,” Johnson said, per Reuters.
The lockdown showed little evidence of a decline in COVID-19 cases, though. Researchers said the highly transmissible COVID-19 variant continued to work its way through the country despite the closures, according to Reuters.
The new plan
Johnson outlined a four-phase process for reopening in England. Here’s how it breaks down. Dates are subject to change.
- March 8: Step 1 would begin with schools reopening as well as limited outdoor social interactions, according to CNN.
- March 29: The second phase of step one would see more restrictions lifted, including allowing groups of six to meet outside with two households allowed to mix.
- April 12: Step 2 would feature the return of nonessential retail, such as gyms and hairdressers. This would also include theme parks, per CNN.
- May 17: Step 3 includes removing social contracting rules. Restaurants would be allowed to serve indoors. Groups of 30 could meet in public spaces or in private outdoor areas, according to CNN.
- June 12: Step 4 would see the removal of all social contacting rules and the return of nightclubs. Weddings won’t have any limitations in that step, CNN reports.
Johnson said the new plan will help people plan for their summers and future. The country, he said, will make adaptions as needed.
- “I know there will be many people who will be worried that we are being too ambitious and that it is arrogant to impose any kind of plan on a virus,” he said, per BBC News. “I agree that we must always be humble in the face of nature.”
- “A wretched year will give way to a spring and a summer that will be very different and incomparably better than the picture we see around us today,” he said.