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Following the UK’s successful rollout of the coronavirus vaccine, which aims to see all of the most vulnerable citizens vaccinated by May 17, Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, announced a 4-step plan that will see the lifting of restrictions, with the complete resumption of economic and social activity and the lifting of all restrictions by June 21st. Whilst this is clearly an exciting prospect, it is important to note that the dates lifted are the earliest possible date that these restrictions can be lifted, and will still be dependent on the fact that the strict conditions will be met.
The plan outlines several steps with key dates in which restrictions will progressively be lifted.
The first stage will see schools opening on the 8th of march, with mass testing and compulsory mask wearing in secondary schools. Those living in a care home will also be permitted one regular visitor. Two people to gather outside, which will be increased on the 29th of march to groups of 6 or two households, providing that they are in an outdoor space, such as a garden or a park. Also from the 29th of March, outdoor sports facilities will be opened, with organised sports being permitted, alongside easing of travel restrictions, with individuals allowed to travel outside of their local area.
Indoor leisure and retail, including shops, hairdressers, gyms, as well as outdoor hospitality and as self-contained holiday accommodation, could reopen on 12 April. There will also be a review of international leisure travel restrictions that will be completed by this date.
As of the 17th of May, two households or a group of six may be able to meet in indoor hospitality venues, such as pubs and restaurants.
Other leisure facilities, including cinemas, museums, hotels, live performances and sporting events will open, with up to 30 people able to attend special occasions.
This final step will hopefully see the lifting of all legal limits on social contact with the final closed sectors of the economy reopened, such as nightclubs.
Whilst this is the initial plan for the reopening of the UK, the success of these steps are dependent on four tests. Firstly, the success of the vaccine rollout, there must also be evidence of vaccine efficacy, there will be a continual assessment of new variants, and finally, infection rates must be kept below the level that could put unsustainable pressure on the National Health Service.
This new plan is promising news for both current residents of the UK, as well as those looking to move there under one of the several residency programmes the country offers. However, whilst it is clear that the UK government is going to great lengths to ensure a sense of normality is brought to everyone living in the UK, the restrictions regarding air travel have yet to be announced. The UK has implemented several travel restrictions in terms of other countries, with travel bans being placed on countries deemed to be high risk for coronavirus, meaning entry to the UK from these countries will be refused. Currently, this includes UAE, Portugal, South Africa, Bolivia, and others. For the full list of banned countries it is best to check the UK government website.
Yet despite these restrictions, we should remain hopeful with the knowledge that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, with the UK’s plan to lift all restrictions regarding coronavirus.