What you need to know about reopening after the third lockdown

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Government plan: the easing of restrictions will be taken in four stages (image: dorian2013)
Government plan: the easing of restrictions will be taken in four stages (image: dorian2013)

Related tags: Legislation, Government, Health and safety

The reopening of hospitality will be permitted after the third lockdown this spring with varying restrictions in place.

The roadmap, which was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday (Monday 22 February)​, outlined the plan of how the Government is expecting to ease restrictions.

It means pubs with external spaces can begin trading in that outside area from April with indoor serving permitted from May.

The easing will be subject to the four tests, as highlighted by Johnson.

These are:

  • The vaccine deployment continues successfully
  • Evidence showing vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths
  • Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations
  • Assessment of risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants

The Morning Advertiser ​(MA​) has outlined the key points from the 68-page document, which is available here​, below.

Step one – Monday 8 March

As far as The MA ​understands, there will be no changes to rules around pubs at this stage.

The changes mostly relate to children and education with schools allowed to start reopening from 8 March but it does mean the nation will no longer be legally required to stay at home.

However, many lockdown restrictions will remain in place such as pubs remaining closed and people are unable to meet others from different households indoors.

Guidance also stated people should continue to work from home where they can and they should also minimise travel wherever possible alongside not staying away from home overnight.

It also means from 29 March, people can meet up in limited numbers outdoors and this will need to comply with the rule of six or one other household but social distancing should remain in place. However, pubs are still closed at this stage and so, doesn’t not impact businesses.

By the time this step starts, the Government has stated those aged 70 and over and the clinically extremely vulnerable will have received their first dose of the vaccine.

Step two – no earlier than Monday 12 April (at least five weeks after step one)

The Government will give a weeks' notice as to if measures can be relaxed.

Pubs can open for outdoor trading only and with the rule of six or two households together rule in place and no indoor mixing or trading is allowed.

There will be no ‘substantial meal’ rule and no curfew however, table service will still have to be in place.

The MA ​understands takeaway alcohol will be allowed as part of step two, in line with the reopening of outdoor hospitality. It is also understood more specific information for businesses in the sector will be provided closer to the introduction of each step.

Decisions around how outdoor space is explicitly defined, the rules around face masks and about if customers would be permitted to use toilets when only allowed to trade outside will be based on the four tests (as outlined above) and further detail around these issues will be revealed nearer the time of when the easing is set to take place, it is understood.

Social distancing rules will remain in place.

For pubs with rooms, domestic overnight stays will be permitted alongside self-contained accommodation that does not have shared use of facilities like bathing, catering and sleeping but they must only be used by members of the same household.

Working from home will still be encouraged and domestic travel should be minimised, according to the Government.

Funerals can continue with 30 attendees and weddings, receptions and other commemorative events such as wakes can now take place with up to 15 people in places permitted to open.

Personal care, indoor leisure, outdoor attractions and all retail can also reopen at this stage.

Event pilots will start to take place.

Step three – no earlier than Monday 17 May (at least five weeks after step two)

One week before this date is when the Government will reveal whether restrictions can be lifted, as planned in this step.

Pubs will now be able to reopen indoors, again without the ‘substantial meal’ rule and no curfew however, table service will still have to be in place.

However, the rule of six or two households inside will be in place but this will be subject to review. For outside, gatherings must be limited to 30 people.

Social distancing to remain in place until the Government updates this advice.

The guidance​ released after the first lockdown, which included the use of face masks for customers except when they are eating and drinking, risk assessments, contact tracing and more (find the full guidance here​) will remain in place in this step.

Some large events such as conferences, theatres alongside concert performances and sports events can also now take place but with a limited capacity.

Controlled indoor events of up to 1,000 people or 50% of a venue’s capacity (whichever is lower) are allowed as well as outdoor events with a capacity of either 50% or 4,000 people (whichever is lower).

The Government also stated it will make a “special provision” for large, outdoor seated venues where crowds can be safety distributed.

This means up to 10,000 people or a quarter (25%) of total seated capacity, whichever is lower.

For events, pilots will be running to look at how they can happen without social distancing and using other mitigations such as testing.

Weddings, funerals, receptions and other commemorative events can now hold up to 30 people and a broader range of stand-alone events like bar mitzvahs and christenings are also permitted.

At this stage, social contact limits will be eased, which the Government said will mean people can make “informed personal decisions”.

While it will continually review the efficiency of the vaccine deployment, it will be no later than stage three when the Government will update its advice on social distancing between friends and family including hugging.

But, until this happens, it has urged people to keep their distance from those outside of their support bubble or household.

Outdoor restrictions will be eased at gatherings of up to 30 people will be permitted. Indoors, the rule of six or meeting of one other household will be in place however, this could change if the data says so.

Step four – Monday 21 June (at least five weeks after step three)

The Government stated in the document this is what it hopes to do and said it is subject to review. As before, the Government will announce one week before restrictions are due to be eased, if this will happen, it said.

Reopen closed businesses including nightclubs, subject to the results of the events pilot taking place as part of step three. This will also include allowing large events to take place including theatre performances.

There will be no legal limits on social contact, which suggests pubs can serve customers without the rule of six, social distancing, face masks and other restrictions in place.

The Government will however, publish accompanying guidance on how best to reduce the risk of transmission.

Limits on weddings and other life events will be removed again, subject to the events pilot.

Related topics: Legislation

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