Johnson to unveil 'four-stage plan' for easing lockdown

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

When will hospitality reopen after third Coronavirus lockdown April May roadmap Boris Johnson

Related tags Coronavirus lockdown Government

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will unveil a 'four-stage plan' for easing lockdown in England later today (22 February), which is expected to see hospitality remain closed until at least April.

The Prime Minister will set out his roadmap for lifting restrictions during a speech to the Commons at 3.30pm this afternoon. This will be followed by a Downing Street press conference at 7pm.

Johnson will order the reopening of all schools on 8 March as part of a 'four-stage plan' for the easing of lockdown that will happen over a four month period and could see a full reopening of the economy by July.

Outdoor activities will be prioritised, with the Prime Minister pledging to allow two families or a group of six friends will be allowed to meet outdoors by Easter

There is no concrete information as to when hospitality will be able to unlock, although several news outlets are reporting that pub beer gardens could be allowed reopen in mid April, with indoor hospitality forced to remain closed until May or even June. 

Suggestions of an 'al fresco April' have been rumoured for some time, with the pub sector recently slamming the plans​ as being commercially unviable.

The roadmap will be set against four key tests that will determine when and if other parts of the economy can restart. These include the continued successful deployment of the vaccine programme; evidence that jabs are reducing hospital admissions and deaths; and a continued fall in Covid infection rates so as to ensure further reopening doesn't risk a surge in hospital admissions.

Restrictions will be eased nationally, not under regional tiers as they were following the lockdown in November last year.

There are fears that the roadmap may not provide hard and fast dates for the unlocking of all sectors, such as the night-time economy, which has been forced to remain closed since the onset of the first national lockdown in March last year.

Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), has urged the Prime Minister to make sure he includes definitive reopening dates for night-time economy businesses in his plan.

“We urge the Government to deliver a full and clear exit strategy roadmap, but more importantly to include businesses that will be one of the last sectors to open," he says.

"It will be critical to their survival to be able to financially plan, more vital for them, than the ones which have been continually presented as part of the short term ongoing narrative.

“I would like to point out also, that while this is important to the industry and the workforce that underpin this amazing sector, do not underestimate the importance of this communication to the public, particularly our youth culture who are frustrated and socially starved.

"Without this, we will see an escalation of illegal events and parties born from the lack of consideration for the importance of social engagement as part of their general well being”

“The night-time economy has been a casualty of the pandemic and have supported the Government in their public health strategy to protect the NHS and save lives.  Let us not make such sacrifices in vain, and be assured that the upcoming announcements consider the very real threat that each and every business and person faces in the coming months.

"We continue to seek this clarity of communication and support because as an industry we are not willing to leave anyone behind.”

The Prime Minister's plan to unlock, which is understood to run to more than 50 pages, was signed off yesterday (21 February) by ministers on the Covid-19 strategy committee.

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