JUNE 21 has been earmarked as the heady day all Covid restrictions will finally be eased.
After months of lockdowns, socially distanced catch ups and working from home, Brits were last night offered a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel.
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There is now just 118 days until all restrictions are expected to be lifted as Boris Johnson last night unveiled his cautious four-step roadmap to freedom.
By June 21, Brits will have already been allowed to have enjoyed outdoor summer parties and barbecues, heading back into non-essential shops and even permitted to hug their grandparents.
And after months of only being able to see five other friends, all legal limits on social contact will be lifted on the key date in June.
From then on, nightclubs will be allowed to reopen, along with theatre performances.
It comes as…
- Boris Johnson set England on a snail-paced return to freedom with Covid restrictions not fully lifted until June 21
- The PM today said he was "very optimistic" for the day when all restrictions are dropped
- A plan to lift lockdown by Easter was canned by Sage scientists
- The first whiff of freedom willbegin on March 29
- Piers Morgan was this morning locked in a row with Matt Hancock after the Health Secretary demanded thanks for dealing with the pandemic
- Summer freedom could be brought to a crashing end by a fourth Covid wave, scientists have warned
It is also hoped restrictions on weddings will also be scrapped, with a decision due to be taken nearer the time based on the numbers of deaths and the success of the vaccination rollout.
Speaking today, Boris Johnson said he was "very optimistic" about June 21.
Speaking on a visit to a school today he said he was confident about a slow, cautious return to normality, adding: "We can really look at that June 21 date with some optimism."
The last set of rules being removed will come after restrictions are slowly eased over the months leading into summer.
Schools will first go back on March 8 before Brits will be able to enjoy outdoor barbecues and garden parties in groups of six – or two households – on March 29.
Outdoor team sports and activities such as tennis and golf will also return with people able to head to their local sports clubs again.
Then, if all goes well, the next step will see non-essential shops and hairdressers reopened from April 12.
Families who live in different areas of the country will be able to travel to meet outdoors, as long as they don't enter each other's homes.
Brits can enjoy a pint in pub beer gardens once again as long as they stay seated. Rules about ordering food and a 10pm curfew from previous lockdowns will not return.
And by May 17, the roadmap hopes more rules will be able to be removed to get life back to normal.
This means pubs and cinemas will be able to let customers inside with fans once again be able to watch live sport and music at stadiums and arenas, with social distancing.
Outdoor stadiums will be limited to 25 per cent capacity up to 10,000 fans.
However, foreign holidays have been banned until May 17 until the earliest, with a report to be issued on April 12 about how to get travel back on track.
And Matt Hancock today warned "it's on all of us" to ensure the UK is able to hit the roadmap dates.
He said: "Right now we need to keep doing what we're doing and staying home to make sure we can keep the rates coming down as we roll the vaccine programme out.
"This is only possible because of the vaccine roadmap which has been amazing, but it's also vital everybody plays their part as they have been doing during lockdown."
It is hoped the country’s 54 million adults will be offered a jab by the end of July with the most vulnerable having received both vaccine doses by May.
Scientists have also warned the summer freedoms might be forced to be capped by a fourth Covid wave.
Martin Hibberd, a professor of emerging infectious disease, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “Looking at the modelling, I have a worry that September this year will be very similar to September last year.”
It comes after it was revealed plans to lift the Covid lockdown by Easter were reportedly canned after Sage scientists warned it would cause 91,000 extra deaths.
A proposal to reopen outdoor pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops by the Easter Bank Holiday weekend – with all curbs gone in April – was among several considered.
Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance spoke of his support for the gradual approach taken by PM Boris Johnson, saying: "The sooner you open up everything, the higher the risk of a bigger resurgence.
"The slower you do it, the better."
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