Lockdown update: What time is Boris Johnson’s COVID announcement and what will he say?

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Ross McGuinness
·3 min read
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (COVID-19). Picture date: Wednesday February 10, 2021.
Boris Johnson will lay out his lockdown easing plan on Monday. (PA)

Boris Johnson is expected to lay out his road map later on Monday for easing the coronavirus lockdown in England.

The prime minister is expected to announce that all schools in England can reopen from 8 March.

On the same date, outdoor recreation with one other person will also be permitted, meaning people could sit down together in a park for a coffee, drink or picnic.

The next phase of the government’s plan would see outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households, including in private gardens, permitted from 29 March.

Organised outdoor sport for adults and children could also return from that date.

Watch: Prime minister to unveil road map out of lockdown

Johnson is expected to say that four tests must be passed before progressing to each stage of lockdown easing: the vaccine programme continues successfully, evidence shows vaccines are reducing deaths and those needing hospital treatment, infection rates do not risk a surge in hospital admissions, and new variants do not change the risk of lifting restrictions.

The prime minister is scheduled to lay out his plan for taking the country out of lockdown to MPs on Monday afternoon before leading a news briefing at 7pm.

Earlier on Monday, vaccines minister Nahhim Zahawi said he is confident the current lockdown will be England’s last if this one is eased cautiously.

He said people would also be able to travel to see friends and family from another household from 29 March, “as long as it’s outdoors, and it is two families, or the rule of six”.

Zahawi said: “At the moment, the focus is very much on the steady-as-she-goes.

“Outdoor versus indoor, priority being children in schools, second priority is obviously allowing two people on 8 March to meet outside for a coffee to address some of the issues around loneliness, and of course mental health as well.

“And then the 29th is two families, or rule of six, coming together, and outdoor sporting activities as well.”

It has been suggested the next phase of easing the lockdown could begin as early as 12 April, if the four tests are met.

Speculation has centred on non-essential retail opening in that phase, with the possibility of pubs and restaurants being able to serve outdoors.

But activities such as cinemas and theatres are likely to face a longer wait, and, as with previous lockdowns, mixing in other people’s houses is likely to be permitted later still.

Johnson has stressed the need to relax restrictions in a “cautious” manner, saying the government will make decisions based on the latest data at every step.

Read more:

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Ahead of his Commons address, he said: “Our priority has always been getting children back into school, which we know is crucial for their education as well as their mental and physical wellbeing, and we will also be prioritising ways for people to reunite with loved ones safely.

“Our decisions will be made on the latest data at every step, and we will be cautious about this approach so that we do not undo the progress we have achieved so far and the sacrifices each and every one of you has made to keep yourself and others safe.”

Watch: Vaccines minister says lockdown easing should be 'sustainable'