People across Britain are eager to see lockdown restrictions eased. With the nation stuck in lockdown or under various restrictions for the best part of a year, people are desperate to get back to some form of normality in terms of work, their social lives, travel, and seeing loved ones.
As Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepares to unveil his roadmap out of lockdown for England, many hope to see restrictions finally lifted. However, the PM has made it clear this will be a very gradual process. Some are wondering whether he is erring on the side of caution a little too much.
A four-part plan to ease the country out of lockdown
Johnson has put together a four-part plan designed to ease the nation out of lockdown. It begins with schools returning on 8th March to try and get children back on track with their education. All care home residents across the nation can also have one regular visitor from this date.
At the end of March, the PM is expected to allow socialising outdoors with up to six people or two households permitted to mix. In addition, people should be able to travel outside their local areas from the end of March. However, they may still be advised to avoid overnight stays.
These changes form the first stage of the four-part process, and it has been split into two parts. After this, there will most likely be five weeks between each stage of restrictions being relaxed. Each of the steps taken will be based on data relating to the vaccination rollout and the spread of the infection.
The PM said, "We will be cautious about this approach so that we do not undo the progress we have achieved so far and the sacrifices each and every one of you has made to keep yourself and others safe."
However, with five weeks between each stage, many people are concerned that we will spend a considerable chunk of the year living under various restrictions.
Once the first stage of easing restrictions has passed, there will be a total of 15 weeks to wait before all other steps are implemented. Even then, this will only be possible if the data is positive and the PM continues with the roadmap out of lockdown as planned.
Conditions for each phase
Johnson has stated that several conditions must be met for each phase of the easing to go ahead as planned.
This includes the vaccination programme staying on track, evidence that the vaccination programme is reducing hospitalisations and deaths, restrictions not being affected by new variants, and keeping the infection rate under control so that it does not cause a surge in hospitalisations.
The sharp drop in infection and death rates over recent weeks has prompted the PM to relax some restrictions during March. The figures indicate that the vaccination rollout is proving to be successful. The country has managed to hit and exceed its vaccination targets so far.
However, even with the vaccination programme's success and the drop in infection and death rates, the PM still plans to lift restrictions very gradually with over a month between each stage. Some believe that he is being far too cautious and will further negatively impact the economy and people’s lives.