The end of what many are calling "The Last Lockdown" may be in sight after Prime Minister Boris Johnson has outlined his so-called road map to normality.
Mr Johnson has identified a series of dates that – assuming nothing goes wrong – represent increasing levels of freedom from the coronavirus restrictions.
The schedule begins with schools opening on March 8, with added precautions such as masks in classrooms to ensure a reduced spread of the virus. The stay at home order will be lifted on March 29.
Outdoor hospitality venues – including pubs with gardens – could reopen as early as April 12, with indoor hospitality following possibly suit from May 17.
What do you think of the roadmap to freedom? Let us know in this survey:
Nightclubs could finally be permitted to reopen from June 21 under Mr Johnson's plan, after being closed for over a year.
However, health secretary, Matt Hancock has stressed that all the dates on the PM’s list are provisional and that any or all of them could be pushed back in the event of a new outbreak.
He told Times Radio: "The reason we’ve set out 'no-earlier-than' dates is that we need to see the effect of each step before being able to take the next one.
"That’s a really, really important part of this. It’s about seeing the real-world effects. And hence, that’s the reason that we’ve set out the steps five weeks apart so you can see the impact of one step before making the decision to take the next."
Boris Johnson told parliament yesterday that he would be driven by “data not dates” as he published the timeline setting out the earliest stage that different sectors would be reopened.
The strongest pressure to accelerate the lifting of restrictions comes from within Mr Johnson’s own party.
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Mark Harper, a Tory MP and chairman of the anti-lockdown Covid Recovery Group demanded to know why all restrictions were not being lifted at the end of April once all over-fifties other vulnerable groups had been offered their first shot of the Covid vaccine.
He said that that the road map for lifting restrictions was based on "dodgy assumptions", telling LBC: "The biggest flaw is they assume a very low uptake of the vaccine.
"We know the uptake of the vaccine is over 90% in the top groups that have been vaccinated, above 95%, they’ve assumed 15% of the population don’t take the vaccine.
"I have two problems with that; one is that isn’t realistic, that’s not what’s happening, but secondly there is a real question about whether the rest of the country should be held back for two months because some people choose not to take the vaccine."
Steve Baker, the Covid Recovery Group’s deputy chairman, added that the cautious pace of the reopening programme was a "hammer blow to aviation, pubs, restaurants, hotels, gyms and pools, the arts and entertainment”.
Labour leader Keir Starmer has sounded a more careful note, telling parliament that the lockdown can only be lifted once the virus was properly under control.
To achieve this, more than the current three in ten need to self-isolate properly, he said, and schools needed to be adapted to be better at stopping infections.
"Mr Speaker, this is the third time the Prime Minister has announced a plan to come out of a national lockdown," Mr Starmer said.
"Each time, we’ve emerged without sufficient caution, each time without a clear plan, and without listening to the science. As a result, we’ve ended back at square one.
"This time, there are no excuses. This has to be the last lockdown."
We want to know what you think about the blueprint and how you feel in the aftermath of the announcement.
Our new survey goes through the plans step-by-step, asking Star Readers whether the different stages are coming too early, too late or at the right time.
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