After what has felt for many like the longest year, there is a light at the end of the tunnel with Government setting out a four-stage roadmap out of lockdown which aims to see all restrictions on social contact removed from the end of June 2021.
Don’t bend the rules now
Each stage of easing comes with an earliest date that it can happen, but it is crucial to note, those restrictions won’t be lifted if there are any concerns around vaccines, infection rates and new variants of the virus.
The easing of restrictions will be led by data, not dates. So, it could all change. It remains essential that people abide by the rules so we can move through the stages as planned! We’re all dreaming of hugs with loved ones and gatherings with friends, let’s keep sticking to the rules, with that in mind!
Feeling anxious about lockdown measures easing?
You’re not alone – for many the idea of having more freedom and social contact is exciting and long awaited, for others it seems scary and there are probably plenty of people feeling somewhere in between.
If you need to speak to someone, you can find out more about mental health services in East Sussex. There are also resources to support the mental health and wellbeing of young people.
What are the four stages of the roadmap and what do they mean for me?
Stage one (part one) – earliest, 8th March 2021
- The end of home schooling (thank goodness for that, I hear the parents among you scream) as schools and colleges will reopen – Find out the latest on schools, children and families’ services in East Sussex.
- University students can return for practical courses.
- No need to schedule in some exercise to escape the house and catch up with a friend – two people from different households can meet outside for recreation, which can include “a coffee on a bench”.
- Care home residents can finally be reunited with (one) loved one – every care home resident in England will be able to nominate a single named regular visitor, lateral flow tests, PPE and minimal contact will be required to keep things as safe as possible.
Stage one (part 2) – earliest, 29th March 2021
- People will be allowed to meet outside, either with one other household or within the “rule of six”, including in private gardens. We know this is where temptation will seep in to flex the rules, but it is so important to keep it to no more than two households and stick to the rule of six wherever possible. More people and more households mean the potential for the virus to spread much further, much more quickly. Remember, one in three people don’t have Covid-19 symptoms so you could easily spread it without knowing.
- The stay-at-home rule will end – but this doesn’t mean travelling across the country to see people. Wherever possible people should stick to their local area – there isn’t a definition of what local is but let’s be pragmatic about it! It’s probably not acceptable to travel to another county if it isn’t essential.
- Outdoor sport facilities will reopen (including swimming pools) and (formally organised) grass roots sports including Sunday league football, rugby, golf and tennis will resume. Good news for both kids and adults who have been stuck at home for months! Although these sports can restart it’s a good idea to check with relevant sports federations as there will be some additional restrictions in place.
Stage two – earliest, 12th April 2021
- It’s the announcement we have all been waiting for – time to cover up those greys, trim up that beard, get your lashes done and a mani-pedi while you’re at it! Non-essential retail can re-open, including hairdressers, barbers and other “close contact services”.
- All those energetic beings confined to home workouts and long runs can finally get back to gyms, swimming pools and spas as they reopen for individuals and households.
- A weekend away with the family? Go for it – UK domestic holidays away from home in self-contained accommodation is allowed if you’re only with members of your own household.
- More entertainment and weekend activities are afoot as zoos, theme parks, drive-in cinemas, as well as beer gardens and alcohol takeaways re-open.
- Community centres can also open and we know for sure the East Sussex librarians will be eagerly awaiting the chance to fling open their doors and welcome residents back into our libraries.
Stage three – earliest, 17th May 2021
- Time to expand that social circle as people can meet outdoors in groups of up to 30, this includes outdoor theatres and cinemas.
- Weather too rubbish to entertain outdoors? Worry not because six people or two households can now meet indoors.
- Pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues can seat customers INDOORS! Who can remember when they last set foot in a pub or restaurant!? Time to take that fresh new haircut for spin.
- Museums, theatres, cinemas and children’s play areas (including soft play and inflatable parks) can open, as can adult indoor group sports and exercise classes. So many options it’ll be hard to choose! The Keep, which is the County’s archive centre will also be re-opening.
- You’re no longer limited to self-catering accommodation for trips away, just stick with your own household and you can book a hotel, hostel or B&B!
- There is even a possibility of international leisure travel!!
Stage four – earliest, 21st June 2021
- LIFE RESUMES AS NORMAL (or pretty much, it’s too soon to assume there won’t be any need for face coverings and singing songs to make sure you’re washing your hands properly)
- You can, finally, hug people you don’t share a house with! If they reciprocate… please don’t hug random people, that’s not appropriate. But you can hug your friends and family, when and where you like and as many people as you like… group hug?
- Time to celebrate… there will no longer be any legal limit on the number of people who can attend weddings, funerals and other life events.
- Time to dig out your party clothes – nightclubs can finally reopen.
Sounds too good to be true?
It doesn’t have to be. It’s important not to get ahead of ourselves though. All these dates are movable, and all rely on us sticking to the rules at every stage, getting the vaccine when it’s our turn so the four conditions set out by Government are met.
- The coronavirus vaccine programme continues to go to plan.
- Vaccines are sufficiently reducing the number of people dying with the virus or needing hospital treatment.
- Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospital admissions.
- New coronavirus variants do not fundamentally change the risk of lifting restrictions.
Please continue to wear a face covering when you’re supposed to (exemptions apply), keep your distance while you must and don’t bend the rules. Better days are coming, but only if we stick to the guidance and restrictions at every step of the way.