Last reviewed 23 February 2021

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced his roadmap for easing Covid-19 restrictions in England. It is hoped that all restrictions will be able to be lifted by 21 June at the earliest.

Boris Johnson said the plan aims to be “cautious but irreversible” and at every stage decisions would be led by “data not dates”.

After the first stage in March, further lifting of the rules will happen if certain conditions are met. Each stage will be a minimum of five weeks apart, and four conditions must be met at each stage before proceeding to the next one.

The conditions will be that the Covid-19 vaccine programme continues to go to plan; vaccines are sufficiently reducing the number of people dying with Covid-19 or needing hospital treatment; infection rates don’t risk a surge in hospital admissions; and new coronavirus variants do not fundamentally change the risk of lifting restrictions.

Key “earliest possible” dates in lockdown easing are as follows.

Step one:

8 March

  • Care home residents allowed one regular visitor.

  • Schools open.

  • Two people allowed to sit together outdoors.

29 March

  • Travel outside local area allowed.

  • Six people or two households allowed to meet outdoors.

  • Outdoor sports facilities open, and organised sport allowed.

Step two:

12 April

  • Hospitality outdoors opened.

  • Non-essential retail and personal care opened.

  • Indoor leisure opened.

  • Self-contained holiday accommodation opened.

Step three:

17 May

  • Six people or two households can meet outdoors.

  • Most social contact rules outdoors lifted.

  • Indoor hospitality and hotels opened.

Step four:

21 June

  • All legal limits on social contact lifted.

  • Final sectors of economy reopened.

Before the fourth step, ministers will carry out a review into social distancing and other "long-term measures" designed to reduce transmission, including the “one metre plus” rule and the wearing of face coverings. They will also look at whether to lift the "work from home" guidance, which the Government says people should continue to follow until the review has been completed.

Other parts of the UK aim to set out their plans for easing lockdown in the coming weeks.

In Wales, minor easing of restrictions, including a resumption of weddings and civil ceremonies on 1 March has been announced, and there is a hope that the "stay-at-home" requirement can end within three weeks. Children aged three to seven returned to school on 22 February. It is hoped older primary age groups and secondary school pupils preparing for exams will return on 15 March.

The Scottish Government hopes to publish a route out of lockdown in the coming week but First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned against booking Easter holidays, either at home or abroad. Primary school children in years P1 to P3, and senior pupils who need to carry out practical assignments, return on 22 February.

Northern Ireland’s lockdown has been extended until 1 April, with a review of current measures on 18 March. Primary school children in years one to three will return on 8 March and secondary school pupils in years 12 to 14 on 22 March.