As the UK readies itself for its third bank holiday weekend spent in lockdown, thoughts are starting to turn to when the current measures could be relaxed again.
Currently, the country is in the first stage of leaving lockdown, after restrictions were lifted in England earlier this month.
From 11 May, people who cannot work from home are ‘actively encouraged’ to return to work while sunbathing, unlimited exercise, and meeting up with one person from outside of your household is allowed.
Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland have since released their own plans to get out of lockdown.
So, what’s next for the country?
What is the next stage of lockdown?
The second phase, which will happen from June 1 ‘at the earliest’ will see the reopening of some shops and schools in England.
Schools will begin to reopen
According to the Government’s strategy: ‘Schools should prepare to begin to open for more children from 1 June. The Government expects children to be able to return to early years settings, and for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to be back in school in smaller sizes, from this point.’
However, these plans could be hampered, due to ongoing safety concerns from parents and staff.
On Wednesday, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland told BBC Breakfast that he accepted that there may not be a ‘uniform’ return to schools on one day.
He said: ‘I don’t think any of us want to put either children or our dedicated teaching staff in any danger at all, and the question of being safe is clearly paramount.
‘So we’re all working towards June 1 and planning for that return, but I accept the point that there may well be issues from employers that need to be addressed which might not mean we’ll see a uniform approach on June 1.’
Non-essential shops will open
Providing they adhere to the Government’s new Covid-19 secure guidelines, non-essential retail stores will be able to open.
According to the Government’s website: ‘The intention is for this to happen in phases from 1 June; the Government will issue further guidance shortly on the approach that will be taken to phasing, including which businesses will be covered in each phase and the timeframes involved.’
This may include the likes of clothing stores and other high street shops, however, bars, restaurants and hairdressers won’t open for some time yet, as the risk of transmission in these environments are higher.
The Government has published a number of sector-specific guidelines on its website.
In addition to this, cultural and sporting events will start to take place behind closed doors and more public transport will be opened ‘subject to strict measures.’
In phase two, there will also be changes to the rules around social contact, however it is still unclear what these changes could entail.
The official guidance states: ‘The Government has asked SAGE to examine whether, when and how it can safely change the regulations to allow people to expand their household group to include one other household in the same exclusive group.’
The idea of using ‘social bubbles’ where you can socialise with a limited amount of people is floated in the plan, but there is no confirmation this will be implemented yet.
When is the Government’s next update on lockdown?
The Government said it will review the lockdown measures every three weeks – with the previous lockdown having run until 7 May.
This would mean the next review will happen at the end of the month, in or around the 28 May.
There is no guarantee the country will enter the next stage of lockdown as this is fully dependent on the current alert level and fulfilment of the five tests outlined by the Government earlier this month.
When did lockdown start in the UK?
The UK entered lockdown on 23 March, when Boris Johnson made an 8:30pm address to the nation where he announced new measures were being introduced.