Today, Monday 22 February, the government has published the ‘COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021’, setting out the roadmap out of the current lockdown for England. Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has outlined that from Monday 8 March, people in England will see restrictions start to lift and the government’s four-step roadmap offer a route back to a more normal life. 

In Step 1, the priority is to ensure that all children and students return safely to face-to-face education in schools and colleges from 8 March. The ‘stay at home’ rule will end on 29 March but many restrictions will remain in place. People should continue to work from home where they can and minimise the number of journeys they make where possible, avoiding travel at the busiest times and routes.

In Step 2, which will be no earlier than 12 April, will see the opening of non-essential retail; personal care premises such as hairdressers and nail salons; and public buildings, including libraries and community centres. Indoor leisure facilities such as gyms will also reopen (but only for use by people on their own or in household groups); as will most outdoor attractions and settings including outdoor hospitality venues, zoos, theme parks, and drive-in cinemas.

As part of Step 3, no earlier than 17 May, the government will look to continue easing limits on seeing friends and family wherever possible, allowing people to decide on the appropriate level of risk for their circumstances. Most businesses in all but the highest risk sectors will be able to reopen.

By Step 4 which will take place no earlier than 21 June, the government hopes to be in a position to remove all legal limits on social contact. The government also hope to reopen remaining premises, including nightclubs, and ease the restrictions on large events and performances that apply in Step 3.

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4

The roadmap in detail

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Our views on the announcement

A clear road map that puts public health at the heart of our immediate recovery is welcomed. A cautious approach is one that let’s us hope this lockdown is the last. What businesses, from retail to commercial, leisure and hospitality have been crippled by is uncertainty.

Ongoing support that works in line with this plan is vital and lifesaving for those businesses forced to remain closed. Overheads haven’t gone anywhere and we need as clear a signal on extending furlough, business rates relief and Vat relief as we have on this roadmap. Tapered relief is key if recovery is going to mean the same for everyone.

If we really are going to build back better, we need every layer of business, from our grassroots and independents to our major players to have hope that they can open their doors. A robust and confident plan that secures the future of business is what we will expect the Chancellor to deliver in his budget.

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