'Stay at home' to be scrapped as Boris Johnson unveils route to normality

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Ben Riley-Smith
·5 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
251607236 / f6cbea0d-213a-3557-832b-a36cabe4c5c8 Original description: The Buckland family (permissions granted) enjoy ice creams today as the sun came out on the seafront in Brighton ***Pic by David McHugh / Brighton Pictures 07768 721637*** Source: Brighton Pictures Filename: TELEMMGLPICT000251607236.jpeg - David McHugh/Brighton Pictures
251607236 / f6cbea0d-213a-3557-832b-a36cabe4c5c8 Original description: The Buckland family (permissions granted) enjoy ice creams today as the sun came out on the seafront in Brighton ***Pic by David McHugh / Brighton Pictures 07768 721637*** Source: Brighton Pictures Filename: TELEMMGLPICT000251607236.jpeg - David McHugh/Brighton Pictures

Boris Johnson will announce that the 'stay at home' rule will be scrapped next month, as outdoor sports return and families can finally meet in gardens.

Revealing his long-awaited reopening “road map”, the Prime Minister will say school sports will be allowed when children return to classrooms on Mar 8 and all organised outdoor sport will be permitted from March 29.

Guidance telling people to stay at home and in their local area will also lift on March 29, The Telegraph understands, with groups of six or two households able to meet outside from that date.

However, the lifting of lockdown will be gradual, spread over at least four months with social distancing rules and guidance to work from home remaining in the near term.

There will be four different ‘stages’ of the reopening roadmap, and to progress through them four data ‘tests’ must be met, showing that vaccines are effective and hospitals are protected.

Mr Johnson 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."

The roadmap was signed off by key cabinet ministers on Sunday. It will go to the full Cabinet on Monday, with Parliament informed around 3.30pm and a press conference around 7pm.

The document, close to 60 pages long, will outline four stages for reopening which roughly correspond to the months of March, April, May and June.

The first stage has two key dates. On Mar 8, all schools (both primary and secondary) will reopen in England, with children allowed to play sport when they attend.

Care home residents will be able to have a single visitor, who can come inside and hold hands after having a Covid-19 test and wearing protective equipment, from that date.

People will also be allowed to meet one-to-one outside in public spaces to socialise, such as having a coffee on a park bench or a picnic, rather than just to exercise.

The second key date in stage one is Mar 29. That will see the return of the ‘rule of six’, with six people from up to six different households able to meet outside.

Alternatively, two households will be allowed to meet outside, even if together they are more than six people. That means outside family get-togethers can happen by Easter Sunday.

Organised outdoor sports will also be allowed to start again from March 29, meaning the return of weekend football or golf. This applies to both adults and children.

March 29 is also the date the rules saying people must remain in their local area will be dropped, The Telegraph understands, meaning lengthy drives in one day to see someone outside are allowed.

Stage two will likely begin in April, though details for the later stages remain unclear. This will likely include non-essential shops opening and outdoor serving for pubs and restaurants.

Stage three could start in May and see pubs and restaurants serve indoors or hairdressers open. Stage four in June could see staycations given the green lights.

Government sources cautioned that dates for each of the stages, to be announced on Monday, will only be “earliest” dates and could slip further.

Britons are likely to be told to work from home when possible, keep two metres apart from each other and wear face masks for months to come.

Four key tests will be done before the country can advance to the next stage in the roadmap.

It must be shown that the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out is progressing as planned; the vaccines bring down deaths and hospitalisations; cases are not rising so high that hospitals become overloaded; and no new variants have changed the risk assessment.

The latest figures suggest the situation is continuing to improve.

The number of new Covid-19 infections reported on Sunday was 9,834, down 10 per cent in a week and the lowest daily figure since the start of October 2020.

There were 215 further deaths reported, the lowest since 144 deaths were reported on Dec 13. Hospital admissions are also falling, with the number admitted over the last seven days down 20 per cent on the previous week.

The number of people who have received a first dose of the vaccine has hit 17,582,121, a third of the UK population.

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said there were early signs the vaccines were proving effective as he announced one in three adults have now had a Covid-19 jab.

A data briefing from Sir Patrick Vallance and Prof Chris Whitty to cabinet ministers also showed that coronavirus cases had fallen steeply in recent days. One Government source said: "The data was very good.”

However, in light of the optimistic figures Mr Johnson is facing pressure from his Tory backbench to go quicker, with more than 40 Conservative MPs calling for pubs and restaurants to be open inside by April 15.

Among those who put their names to the call are Mark Harper and Steve Baker, the chairman and deputy chairman of the lockdown-sceptic Covid Recovery Group.

Mr Harper said: “As we get better and better news about the pace of the vaccination rollout, the public have got to see this success and their sacrifice translating into a return to normal life as we protect those vulnerable to Covid by vaccination.”

The group is due to meet after Mr Johnson's announcement to discuss their response, with a House of Commons vote likely on the plans in some form in the coming weeks.

Mr Harper told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday that he wants all legal restrictions to "fall away" by the end of April, earlier than is expected in Mr Johnson's plan.

He said: "We think by the end of April the case for domestic legal restrictions, limiting what people can do, falls away. We think at that point people should be able to get on with their lives."

Former Conservative leader Lord Hague said on Sunday that there "wouldn't be much justification for keeping most of the restrictions on people" once all over-50s were vaccinated by mid April.