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When is the next easing of lockdown restrictions - and what will it involve?

Rebecca Speare-Cole
·3-min read

Watch: England takes major step out of COVID lockdown; PM urges caution

People across England have flocked to pubs, shops, gyms and hairdressers after the latest round of lockdown lifting.

Pubs and restaurants were allowed customers outside for the first time in months on Monday.

It came as “stage two” of the government’s lockdown easing road map which also saw shops, gyms, hairdressers, zoos and libraries all reopen.

Boris Johnson set out his plan on 22 February, revealing how restrictions would be lifted at different stages over the four months.

Read: 'No social distancing, no masks': Anger and joy as Soho streets packed with revellers after lockdown eases

At the time, he spoke of a "one-way road to freedom" roadmap, giving a timetable of dates but cautioned that restrictions would only be lifted on schedule depending on four “tests”.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 12, 2021: Crowds fill tables in Old Compton Street in Soho, which is closed to traffic, as outdoor hospitality venues open their premises to customers after being closed for over three months under coronavirus lockdown, on 12 April, 2021 in London, England. From today the next stage of lifting lockdown restrictions goes ahead with pubs and restaurants allowed to serve food and drinks outdoors, opening of non-essential shops, hairdressers, beauty salons and gyms in England. (Photo credit should read Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Crowds fill tables in Old Compton Street in Soho as outdoor hospitality venues opened their premises to customers after being closed for over three months under coronavirus lockdown. (Getty)

Stage one started on 8 March and saw schools reopen as well as people being allowed to socialise outdoors with someone from a different household.

As part of stage one, there was also a further easing on 29 March, when up to six people, or two households, will be permitted to meet outdoors.

Now, with stage one and stage two checked off, we look forward to what happens next with lockdown.

Watch: Drinkers and diners packs pavement in London's Soho as outdoor hospitality resumes

Stage 3

Stage three of Johnson’s roadmap is planned for 17 May, contingent on the latest data.

The stage will see two households or groups of up to six people allowed to mix indoors.

Limited crowds will also be permitted to attend sporting events.

Pubs and restaurants will open indoors, as well as entertainment venues such as cinemas and theatres. Hotels would also reopen, as well as sports stadiums subject to capacity limits.

Stage 4

For the fourth stage of lockdown, the government aims to "removed all legal limits on social contact" from 21 June.

It will include all bans being lifted on weddings and other life events.

The final closed sectors of the economy will also be opened such as nightclubs, and lifting restrictions on large events and performances.

Four tests to lift restrictions

On announcing the restrictions, Downing Street revealed four key tests which determine whether Johnson can give the green light for each step to go ahead.

These are:

1. The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.

2. Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.

3. Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.

4. Our assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new "variants of concern".

There is currently no indication that the country will not meet these tests as infection rates continue to go down.

On Monday, the government revealed that the government has reached its target of offering a first dose to the nine most vulnerable groups - including all over-50s.

More than 32 million people in the UK have now had the vaccine.

The NHS website now says that over-45s can book their COVID jabs.

Read more:

Third COVID wave 'could cause 50,000 more deaths' in UK despite vaccine rollout, warns top scientist

WHO says we can bring COVID pandemic under control within months - 'The choice is ours'

The seven-day rolling average of new daily infections also continues to plummet, hitting 1,666.71 as of 12 April, according to Our World in Data.

Deaths rates in the UK are also falling, hitting a seven-day rolling average of 0.51 per one million people as of 12 April.

The figures are among the lowest in Europe with neighbouring France seeing a seven-day rolling death rate average of 4.80 per one million.

Our World in Data shows Germany’s latest average death rate is 2.83 per million people while Bosnia and Herzegovina has 23.30 per million.

Watch: COVID tests twice a week to get UK out of lockdown