COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021
The government has published the ‘COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021’ setting out the roadmap for easing restrictions. Before taking each step, the Government will review the latest data on the impact of the previous step against the following four tests:
1. The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.
2. Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths
3. Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations and put pressure on the NHS.
4. The Government’s assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants
The four steps for easing restrictions are:
- Step 1 (Test passed) – the priority is to ensure that all children and students return safely to face-to-face education in schools and colleges from 8 March.
- Step 2 (Test passed)– 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.
- Step 3 (Test passed) – which will be 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.
- Step 4 (Test passed) – which will take place no earlier than 19 July, the Government hopes to be in a position to remove all legal limits on social contact. Before Step 4 begins, the Government will complete a review of social distancing and other long-term measures that have been put in place to cut transmission (this step was delayed for four weeks on 21 June).
- On 19 July, most legal restrictions will end, removing social distancing and social contact restrictions and enabling remaining businesses to reopen
- By the end of July, the government will publish an updated COVID-19 contain outbreak management framework for local areas
- On 16 August, the rules on self-isolating as a contact will change for people who are fully vaccinated and for under 18s
- In September, the government will undertake a review to assess the country’s preparedness for autumn and winter, which will consider whether to continue or strengthen public and business guidance
- Schools and colleges return to face-to-face education, childcare allowed (school children and college students and teachers to undertake testing before returning – secondary school and college students and teachers will take tests on an ongoing basis)
- One plus one social meeting outdoors
- One visitor to care home residents (subject to testing and PPE but ‘hand holding’ will be allowed)
- Wraparound childcare and other supervised children’s activities resume so parents can work, seek work, attend education, seek medical care or attend a support group
- Weddings attended by up to six people can take place in any circumstances
- Stay at home stays in place
- Amended regulations around campaigning in elections to be published
- The stay at home rule will end but people should stay local as much as possible and we are still encouraged to work from home
- Rule of six applies again - outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households will be allowed. This will include gatherings in private gardens.
- Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts, and outdoor swimming pools, can reopen.
- Formally organised outdoor sports - for adults and under 18s - can also restart and will not be subject to the gatherings limits.
- Parents and children groups can return but are capped at 15 and must be outdoors.
- Watford tennis courts, golf course, outdoor gyms and Multi Use Games Areas will reopen. Oxhey Activity Park and the Paddling Pools in Cassiobury Park reopening.
- Parking enforcement will recommence across the CPZ scheme. Payment to park in council owned car parks will recommence.
- All shops allowed to open
- Restaurants and pub gardens will be allowed to serve customers sitting outdoors, including alcohol
- Gyms and spas can reopen for individuals and households (but not for group classes)
- Hairdressers, beauty salons and other "close contact services" can reopen
- UK domestic holidays away from home permitted, with self-contained accommodation able to reopen for use by members of the same household
- Children allowed to attend indoor play activities, with up to 15 parents or guardians allowed to join them
- Libraries and community centres can reopen
- Weddings attended by up to 15 people can take place
- Outdoor attractions can open such as zoos, theme parks and drive in cinemas
- People can meet in groups of up to 30 outdoors
- Six people or two households can meet indoors
- Pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues can seat customers indoors
- Up to 30 people can meet to celebrate weddings or other life events, like christenings
- Remaining outdoor entertainment, such as outdoor theatres and cinemas can open
- Indoor entertainment such as museums, theatres, cinemas and children's play areas can open
- Performances and large events will be subject to limits though. For indoor events they can be at half capacity or 1,000 people, and outdoors they can be at half capacity or 4,000 people - whichever is lower. For large venues (at least 40,000 capacity) up to 10,000 will be allowed to attend
- Hotels, hostels and B&Bs can reopen
- International leisure travel will resume no earlier than 17 May
- Adult indoor group sports and exercise classes can start up again
- Review of social distancing
- Review of certificates for vaccinations, tests