How England's lockdown roadmap compares to the rest of the UK

By Kieran Doody

UK Trending Editor

How England's lockdown roadmap compares to the rest of the UK

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Boris Johnson revealed plans for the easing of lockdown in England this week when he revealed the government’s “road map” out of lockdown in a Downing Street press conference.

A new four-stage plan in England could see all legal limits on social contact lifted by June 21, if all conditions are met.

We could see non-essential shops, hairdressers, gyms and outdoor hospitality reopen on April 12 if all goes to plan.

But plans for the easing of Covid-19 restrictions differ across the UK from nation to nation.

There are different plans in place across the devolved nations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as leaders prepare for a return to some sort of normality.

Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson have both revealed lockdown frame works while Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford has avoided sticking to certain dates and has opted for a review every three weeks.

In Northern Ireland, First Minster Arlene Foster has said plans to exit lockdown would be published on March 1.

Here is what you need to know about the strategy of each nation and how they compare.

Boris Johnson. (PA)


Stage one is in two parts:

March 8

  • All schools and colleges will reopen
  • University students can return for practical courses. There will be a review by the end of the Easter holidays for all other students
  • Face coverings are recommended in class for secondary school students and also for parents and staff in primary schools
  • Wraparound childcare can also return for vulnerable pupils and where it is needed for parents or carers to go to work, support groups or to seek medical care
  • Two people from different households can meet outside for recreation, which can include "a coffee on a bench"
  • One nominated person can visit care homes, but will need PPE, a lateral flow test and to "keep physical contact to a minimum"
  • Weddings attended by up to six people can take place in any circumstances

March 29

  • People will be allowed to meet outside, either with one other household or within the "rule of six", including in private gardens
  • The stay at home rule will end but people should stay local as much as possible
  • Outdoor sport facilities will reopen, including tennis and basketball courts
  • Formally organised outdoor sports can also restart
  • Parents and children groups can return but are capped at 15 and must be outdoors. Indoor groups can take place for vulnerable children and where parents need the groups to go to work

Stage two

No earlier than April 12:

  • 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
  • Hairdressers, beauty salons and other "close contact services" can reopen
  • UK "staycations" 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
  • Zoos, theme parks and drive-in cinemas can reopen
  • Libraries and community centres can reopen
  • Weddings attended by up to 15 people can take place


Stage three

No earlier than May 17:

  • People can meet in groups of up to 30 outdoors
  • Six people or two households can meet 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 to household groups
  • International travel will resume no earlier than 17 May
  • Adult indoor group sports and exercise classes can start up again.


Stage four

No earlier than June 21:

  • All legal limits on social contact will be removed
  • No legal limits on the number of people who can attend weddings, funerals and other life events. From April, the government will run pilots for events such as large weddings, festivals and work conferences. This will help to determine how measures such as enhanced testing might allow large groups to attend without social distancing
  • Nightclubs will be allowed to reopen

What are these based on?

Each stage will be a minimum of five weeks apart.

Four conditions must be met at each stage before proceeding to the next one:

  • 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


Nicola Sturgeon. (PA)

Phase One - From February 22

  • Early learning and childcare and schools open for Primary 1-3 pupils and senior phase pupils for essential practical work.
  • Limited increase in the provision for vulnerable children.
  • Care homes opening to facilitate meaningful contact between relatives/ friends and residents.

Phase Two - Unlikely before March 15

  • Second phase of schools reopening
  • University and colleges - Phased return of a further small number of priority students for in-person learning
  • Non-contact outdoor group sports for 12-17-year-olds subject to sport-specific guidance.
  • Socialising rules eased, to allow outdoor meetings of four people from two households.

Phase Three - Unlikely before April 5

  • The third and final phase of schools reopening if required.
  • Stay at Home requirement removed.
  • Places of worship can open on a restricted numbers basis [20].
  • Retailers list expanded slightly and click-and- collect resumes for non-essential retail.

Phase Four - Unlikely before April 26

  • A return to geographically variable levels.
  • Limited other easings within Level 4, including permitting non-essential work in people’s homes.
  • Return to variable Levels approach, based on revised metrics in light of WHO guidance.
  • This will enable the graduated opening up of economic and social activity, at a pace that is safe given epidemiological conditions.
  • Increasing vaccine coverage over time should enable greater easing of restrictions.

What are the conditions?

Gateway condition:

at least all JCVI Priority Groups 1-9 offered at least first vaccine and WHO’s six conditions met.

World Health Organisation (WHO): 6 Conditions for safe easing

  1. Transmission is controlled.
  2. Sufficient public health and health system capacities are in place.
  3. Outbreak risks are minimized in high vulnerability settings.
  4. Preventive measures are established in workplaces.
  5. Manage the risk of exporting and importing cases.
  6. Communities have a voice, are informed, engaged and participatory in the transition.




Last Friday, First Minister Mark Drakeford announced the “Stay at Home” message will remain in place until the next review.

Mr Drakeford said that the Welsh Government was prioritising getting older pupils back into school and college for blended learning from the next review – the results of which will be announced on March 12 - but added the 'Stay at Home' message could also be reviewed.

“If we can lift the stay at home requirement in three weeks time, then we will also look to see whether we can begin to reopen some non-essential retail and close contact services - such as hairdressing,” he said.

First Minister Mark Drakeford. (PA)

Unlike other nations, Mr Drakeford said the decision will not be based on specific figures insisting the “judgement will not just be a mechanical one”.

He said: “It won’t be driven simply by if a number is this, the action will be that.

“What we will do is to take a judgement in the round informed by the advice of our senior clinicians and scientific advisors.

“So we will look at all the things that we become familiar with - the number of people per 100,000, that that is continuing to decline; the positivity rates are declining; that the R number remains below 1; and that the impact of coronavirus in all hospitals is continuing to reduce - but we will then look at all of that as a package, take advice from those who are responsible for our health service and who model for us the way coronavirus is spreading in Wales and when we take all of that together the cabinet will make a judgement on what is possible in three weeks time.”


Northern Ireland

First Minister Arlene Foster. (PA)

Lockdown restrictions in Norther Ireland were introduced on December 26 last year, with restrictions extended to April 1, subject to review on March 18.

First Minister Arlene Foster said a "decision-making framework" on how The Stormont Executive plans to exit lockdown will be published on March 1.

Primary school pupils in year groups P1 to P3 will return to classrooms on March 8 and secondary school pupils in exam years, year groups 12-14, will return on March 22.

People will also be able to mix with ten people as opposed to six, from a maximum of two households from March 8.