BORIS Johnson vowed to “take stock” of lockdown restrictions in mid-February once the most vulnerable Brits have been offered the vaccine.
But how is lockdown likely to be lifted and when might restrictions start to be eased?
How is lockdown likely to be lifted?
While a lockdown exit strategy has not been officially confirmed, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has indicated how restrictions might be eased.
On Monday (January 18) Boris Johnson said that there would be “gradual unwrapping” of restrictions with officials looking at a phased return to normality starting with schools opening.
It is understood current thinking would see kids go back to the classrooms but other stay at home restrictions kept in place – similar to November’s shutdown.
Mr Johnson is adamant to keep his tier system but it’s likely that most of the country would automatically go back into Tier 4 – the highest level of restrictions with pubs and shops still shut – to begin with.
Households are able to meet up outside in Tier 2 giving hope for Easter get togethers.
On January 20, top medic Jenny Harries confirmed the regional approach would return.
Giving evidence to the Commons Education Committee, she said: “It is highly likely that when we come out of this national lockdown we will not have consistent patterns of infection in our communities across the country.
“And therefore, as we had prior to the national lockdown, it may well be possible that we need to have some differential application.”
She added: “I think it’s likely that we will have some sort of regional separation of interventions.”
What are the tier restrictions?
There are four tier restrictions, each with varying levels of rules depending on the severity of Covid cases.
TIER 4 – LOCKDOWN
Non-essential shops, pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, nail salons and gyms are shut when an area enters Tier 4.
Those in Tier 4 are able to meet only one other person outdoors – but must not stay overnight from home.
International travel abroad is not advised and people should not enter or leave Tier 4.
Support bubbles will be still allowed and communal worship can continue.
Weddings will be banned except for extreme cases – like those who are terminally ill.
TIER 3 – VERY HIGH RISK
Tier 3 includes areas of “very high” risk, where coronavirus transmission rates pose a great risk to the public.
In these areas households are not allowed to mix either indoors or outdoors in private gardens.
Pubs and bars stay closed in the very high alert level areas – except for takeaway.
In this tier, people are also advised against travel in and out of the areas.
TIER 2 – HIGH RISK
Areas in Tier Two – where there is a high risk of coronavirus – are banned from mixing with other households indoors, including in pubs.
When outside, the rule of six applies.
Pubs must serve a meal with drinks and last orders will be at 10pm with a closing time of 11pm.
TIER 1 – MEDIUM RISK
Areas in Tier 1 — where there is medium risk of the virus — will be subject to current social distancing measures, the “rule of six” and pubs can stay open until 11pm.
People are able to meet other households indoors and outdoors – but only in groups of six.
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When is the next lockdown review?
The UK government has said they will review the national lockdown around February 15 – with the current restrictions likely to extend into March.
Boris Johnson has promised to offer vaccines to the four most vulnerable categories of Brits by mid-February to help ease restrictions.
This week the Prime Minister promised they will then “take stock” of the situation once that target has been reached.
On Monday, January 17, Mr Johnson vowed: “We are going as fast as we can, we will do everything we can, obviously, to open up.
“But when we come to February 15, that’s the moment we have to take stock, that’s the time to look at where the virus is.”
The PM added: “It’s only really then that we can talk about what steps we can take to relax.”
But he cautious Brits to temper their optimism, saying: “I’m afraid we’ve got to warn people it will be gradual.
“You can’t just open up in a great open sesame, a great bang.”
By law, the UK government must review lockdown restrictions every two weeks.
The last government review of England’s lockdown took place on Tuesday, January 19.
That means the next government review of lockdown rules will take place before February 2.
A statement issued by Matt Hancock on Tuesday said: “In line with our commitments, I have kept the measures in place for the national lockdown under ongoing review.
“On 19 January I completed a review of both the geographical allocations and the restrictions as required by the regulations and have determined that the measures remain necessary and proportionate for all areas in England.
“Whilst there are early indications that new infections may have started to decline in those areas which have been under stricter measures for the longest, scientific advice and the latest epidemiological data is clear that lifting restrictions now would be too early.
“The restrictions are kept under continual review and will be lifted as soon as it is safe to do so.”
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