Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he hoped for a return to “near normal” by the end of June, presenting England’s deconfinement strategy, which he said would be carried out “cautiously” but also “irreversibly“, to the Parliament on Monday.
England is the the hardest hit nation in Europe, with more than 120,000 deaths from Covid-19. The country implemented its third lockdown at the beginning of the year in the face of an explosion of the epidemic due to a more contagious variant which appeared in the South of England, and which brought hospitals to the brink of collapse.
“We cannot go on indefinitely with restrictions that weaken our economy, our mental and physical well-being,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs, presenting a four-step plan for England. “This is why it is essential that this roadmap be prudent but also irreversible.”
The deconfinement will begin with the reopening of schools in early March. From March 29, the order to stay at home will be lifted and outdoor gatherings, limited to six people or two different households, will be allowed.
Non-essential stores, hairdressers, pubs (but only terraces) and museums will have to wait until 12 April. Cinemas, hotels, stadiums (maximum of 10,000 people), hotels and restaurants (indoors) will follow suit on 17 May, the date on which people living in different households will be able to meet indoors.
Johnson said he hoped restrictions limiting social contact will be lifted on 21 June at the earliest, as will the teleworking instruction.
Boris Johnson also added that any decision would be made based on the scientific evidence at his disposal, such as the effectiveness of vaccines and the decline in hospitalisations.
The government’s exit strategy is based on the vaccination campaign, which was launched in early December, and is now in full swing. One in three adults, or more than 17.5 million people, have already received a first dose, and by mid-April, everyone over 50 should all have been at least partially vaccinated.