Covid-19 restrictions in England are beginning to ease from today, Monday 8 March, as step one of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown begins.
The document titled Covid-19 Response Spring 2021 outlines how the Government plans to see the UK out of lockdown.
According to the document, there are four objectives that dictate the Government’s approach to the pandemic:
- To restore freedoms sustainably, equitably and as quickly as possible without putting unsustainable pressure on the NHS and avoiding another lockdown
- To deploy the vaccine as quickly as possible to maximise protections as restrictions are eased
- To protect the public and the NHS by having effective long term contingency plans
- To plan and delivery a national recovery
This is everything you need to know about the changes being implemented from Monday 8 March.
Schools and colleges reopening
The Covid-19 response document explains that step one of the roadmap out of lockdown will begin with schools and colleges reopening on 8 March to resume face to face education.
The Government has confirmed that twice-weekly testing using lateral flow test will be provided for free to all adults in households with primary, secondary and college age children, and young people, including child care and support bubbles.
Twice weekly testing will also be offered to adults working in the wider school community, such as bus drivers and after school club leaders.
Secondary school and college students are also being asked to wear face covering wherever social distancing cannot be maintained as an additional precaution, as well as implementing existing safety measures such as social distancing between staff and students, good ventilation and regular hand washing.
Johnson said: “The reopening of schools marks a truly national effort to beat this virus. It is because of the determination of every person in this country that we can start moving closer to a sense of normality – and it is right that getting our young people back into the classroom is the first step.
“We are being cautious in our approach so that we do not undo the progress we have made so far and I urge you all not to give up on your efforts to keep your families and others safe. Get the vaccine, get tested, and remember that we are all in this together.”
The Spring 2021 response document also explains: “Wraparound childcare (including childminders) and other children’s activities can restart from 8 March for all children where it is needed to enable parents or carers to work, seek work, attend education, seek medical care or attend a support group.”
It is explained that vulnerable children are able to attend these settings regardless of circumstance.
Additionally, under 18s sport can take place at school as part of an educational provision, or part of wraparound care, but should not otherwise take place at this time.
Practical higher education courses
Students undertaking practical higher education courses at English universities who would be unable to complete their courses if they did not return to take part in practical teaching, access specialist facilities, or complete assessments will also be able to return from 8 March.
Research labs and libraries can also be kept open if needed.
For higher education students that do not need to take part in practical teaching, and do not require special facilities or equipment as part of their studies, will not return to in person teaching quite yet.
“The Government will review, by the end of the Easter holidays, the options for timing of the return of these students,” the response document states.
Stay at Home restrictions
From Monday 8 March, the Stay at Home restriction will continue - but it will be amended so that people can leave their homes for recreation as well as outdoor exercise.
Members of the public are able to do these activities with their own household, support or childcare bubble, or with one person from another household.
Social distancing and other safe behaviours should be followed.
Care home visits
Every care home resident in England will be able to nominate a single named visitor who can come to the home for a regular visit.
The visitor will have to take a rapid lateral flow test each time they visit and they will also be required to wear PPE and keep physical contact to a minimum.
In England, travel abroad for holidays will still not be permitted - and from Monday 8 March, outbound travellers will be legally obliged to provide their reason for travel on the Declaration to Travel form.
The Government says: “Entering a port of departure to travel internationally without a completed form is a criminal offence, for which you could be fined.
“If you try to travel abroad without a legally permitted reason, you may also be fined for breaching the stay at home requirements.”
The Government will amend regulations in order to allow for “safe and secure elections” and “to enable a broader range of campaign related activity”.
It is essential that this still takes place in a Covid-19 secure capacity, in line with guidance and the law.