Four stages of lockdown: What can I do and when?

Joe Sommerlad and Kate Ng
·4 min read
 (Parliament Live)
(Parliament Live)

Boris Johnson’s “roadmap to recovery” lays out a timeline for the easing of the social restrictions introduced in early January to quell the spread of Covid-19.

Speaking in the Commons in February, the prime minister unveiled a “cautious” and “prudent” four-stage plan to lift lockdown restrictions, which will allow people to reunite with loved ones in and some sectors to reopen.


From 8 March, care home residents are allowed a single regular visitor, with visitors required to take a lateral flow test and wear personal protective equipment.

Most schools and colleges in England reopened from 8 March, with outdoor after-school sports and activities also allowed to restart.

Follow Covid news live: Latest lockdown updates

From the same date, socially distanced one-to-one meetings with others outdoors in a public space are permitted, meaning friends and family members could sit down for a coffee or have a picnic in the park.

Outdoor gatherings of up to six people or two households are due to be allowed later from 29 March. Outdoor sports will also be allowed again from this date, and the strict “stay at home” guidance will be relaxed to “stay local”.


The hospitality industry will have to stay closed until 12 April at the earliest. From then, it is hoped that pubs and restaurants can reopen to serve customers outdoors as long as groups adhere to the rule of six and are comprised of no more than two households.

Such venues will no longer have to comply with previous restrictions such as curfews and substantial meals in order to reopen, but customers must be seated.

Non-essential retail, including hairdressers, beauty salons, and tattoo parlours, as well as facilities such as libraries, zoos, museums and self-contained accommodation will also be allowed to reopen no earlier than 12 April.

Up to 30 people will be allowed to attend funerals, but weddings will be limited to 15 guests.

We can expect masks, two-metre distancing and hand sanitiser to be with us for some time, as the vaccine rollout continues over the coming months to take in the less “at risk” groups.

We still remain a long way from the prospect of large crowds attending live events, with music festivals like Glastonbury and major sporting events like the European Championships or the Tokyo Olympic Games seemingly not viable until the majority of spectators have been vaccinated, although testing or vaccine certificates at the turnstiles could provide a way forward.


It is hoped that the rule of six with two households can be scrapped outdoors from 17 May, but will be implemented indoors, including inside pubs and restaurants. Gatherings of up to 30 people will be allowed, including at weddings from this date.

Hotels and bed & breakfasts will be allowed to welcome guests again, and some sporting venues will be able to permit spectators, with the largest venues allowed up to 10,000 people.


The last stage of the prime minister’s plan hopes to lift legal limits to social contact no earlier than 21 June. If all goes according to plan, nightclubs may be able to reopen and the government could lift restrictions on events and performances after this date.

The roadmap is subject to four tests in order for the plans to go ahead, including the success of the vaccination rollout, vaccine efficacy, the continuous dropping of infection rates and emergence of new variants.

The government will conduct four reviews during the period of lifting restrictions, including on Covid status certification, pilots of large events, international travel - which will still be banned until at least 17 May - and the withdrawal of antiviral rules such as social distancing and the wearing of masks.

Mr Johnson spent the early weeks of February urging extreme caution regarding the lifting of lockdown restrictions, and said today that it was “inescapable” that lifting rules will result in more infections and deaths.

Mr Johnson has been placed under considerable pressure from within his own party after the Covid Recovery Group led by MPs Steve Baker and Mark Harper issued a letter signed by 63 backbenchers hailing the “tremendous pace” of the UK’s vaccine rollout – with 15m jabs already administered – and calling for the swift easing of restrictions.

While Mr Johnson’s Cabinet has shrugged off demands that it make “arbitrary commitments” and reserves the right to revise its roadmap in accordance with the latest data until the last minute, here’s a look at how life in Britain could look after the lockdown is eventually lifted.

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