Boris Johnson confirmed this monday (22) that all schools in England will reopen from March 8 as the first step on the ‘one-way road to freedom’.
But secondary pupils will need to wear masks in class for ‘weeks’ after the move – and there are precious few other easings until Easter, with scientists seemingly having won the battle for a slow approach.
The next stage of loosening will not be until March 29, when the formal Stay at Home edict is finally dropped in favour of ‘Stay Local’, and the Rule of Six makes a comeback. It will be extended to allow two households to gather, enabling relatives to meet properly for the first time in months.
That date will also see the reopening of tennis courts and golf courses and the return of grassroots football.
But shops, hairdressers and pubs must remain closed until April 12 at the earliest – the same time gyms can get back up and running – regardless of mounting fears about the economic meltdown. Even at that point pints and meals can only be consumed outdoors.
Campsites and holiday lets can reopen for single households from April 12 – but international travel is completely off the cards until at least May 17.
Mr Johnson said the Government will continue to support the sector, adding: ‘I believe setting a deadline of April 12 for the report of the reconstituted travel taskforce will give people time to make their plans for the summer.
‘If things go well, if we can meet these not before dates, then I do believe there is every chance of an aviation recovery later on this year.’
A Government review on whether to introduce vaccine passports or ‘Covid Status Certification’ documents is due to report before Step Four.
It will look at whether the documents, which could show if someone has been tested or if they have had a jab, could help to reopen the economy and make life easier.
Mr Johnson’s roadmap was signed off by senior ministers at a special Covid-S meeting yesterday, and rubber-stamped by the Cabinet this morning.