The blueprint for lifting England’s strict coronavirus lockout has been outlined by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, with certain limitations expected to last until late June.
A new four-step strategy is included in the roadmap and focuses on outdoor socialising and mixing to slowly extract England from the national lockdown in which it has been since January 2.
The stay-at-home order will end on March 29 under the initiative, weeks after children return to school.
Mr Johnson urged caution alongside the strategy with more than 120,000 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic started last March, and an economy facing its largest decline in more than 300 years, saying that the threat from COVID-19 remained “substantial”
“The level of infection is broadly similar across England, so we will ease restrictions in all areas at the same time,” Mr Johnson said.
“The sequence will be driven by the evidence, so outdoor activity will be prioritised while minimising the risk.
“At every stage, our decisions will be led by data, not dates.”
Mr Johnson said the country could not continue “indefinitely” with restrictions.
“And that is why it is so crucial that this roadmap is cautious but also irreversible,” he said.
“We’re setting out on, what I hope and believe, is a one-way road to freedom.”
The current four-step strategy would depend on the successful continuation of the ambitious UK vaccination program, with the vaccines reducing hospitalizations and extreme disease, ensuring that the National Health Service is not overloaded.
It also assumes that new versions of COVID-19 would not alter the evaluation by the government of the risks of restrictions being eased.
Steps with five-week delays will be phased in. The proposal only applies to England, with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each introducing their own restriction clearance plans for the devolved nations.