UK News How are lockdown restrictions changing?
Macron will address France tonight amid third wave of coronavirus
Macron's options have narrowed in recent weeks as the feared British variant sweeps across France and Europe and intensive care units fill up with virus patients.Macron has sought to avoid a new lockdown since the second one ended in December, gambling on a nationwide curfew and local restrictions in the hope of giving the economy a chance to recover from a deep slump.
Lockdown restrictions in England are being eased on Monday.
Wales lifted some Covid restrictions on Saturday, while Scotland and Northern Ireland have also started relaxing their rules.
Here the PA news agency sets out what restrictions are being lifted and when other changes are expected in the coming weeks and months.
– What is changing from March 29
From Monday, when the Easter holidays begin, larger groups of up to six people, from any number of households, or a group of any size from up to two households, are allowed to gather in parks and gardens in England, according to Government guidelines.
The Government’s “stay at home” order will end, with messaging moving to “stay local”, but people will be asked to continue to work from home where possible, and overseas travel will remain banned.
Covid restrictions: What is the latest situation across the UK nations?
Scotland is taking its next gradual steps out of Covid lockdown on Friday while Wales has set out fresh dates for its own easing of restrictions. © Jane Barlow Restrictions are easing in Scotland (Jane Barlow/PA) It comes after the lifting of some measures in Northern Ireland and England earlier this week saw friends and family able to meet up again in small groups outside, in time for the Easter weekend.
Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts are also set to reopen, with organised adult and children’s sport – including grassroots football – able to return.
– When will more restrictions be eased ?
From April 12 at the earliest, shops, hairdressers, nail salons, libraries and outdoor hospitality venues such as beer gardens will be allowed to reopen.
Most outdoor attractions such as zoos and theme parks can reopen, although wider social distancing rules will still apply to prevent indoor mixing between different households.
Indoor leisure facilities such as gyms and swimming pools will also be opened but for use by people on their own or in household groups.
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As fears of a third COVID-19 wave mount and British holidaymakers brace themselves for a second year without a break abroad, all eyes are on Europe. © Associated Press Many areas of Italy are back in lockdown too. Pic: AP Despite the success of the UK's vaccine roll-out programme - with half of all adults having received a jab - there are fears that travelling abroad may bring people into contact with other variants of the virus, sabotaging gains made so far.
Funerals can continue with up to 30 people, and the numbers able to attend weddings, receptions and commemorative events such as wakes will rise from six to 15.
– What happens next in England?
From no earlier than May 17 most social contact rules outside will be lifted although gatherings of more than 30 will remain illegal.
Indoors, the rule of six or two households will apply – although the Government has said it will keep under review whether it is safe to increase this.
Indoor hospitality, entertainment venues such as cinemas and soft play areas, the rest of the accommodation sector, and indoor adult group sports and exercise classes will also reopen.
Limited crowds will also be allowed at sporting events.
All remaining restrictions on social contact could be lifted from June 21, allowing for larger events to go ahead and nightclubs to reopen.
– How is the Government deciding when to lift restrictions?
Lorraine Kelly admits she 'could have cried' after seeing gatherings
Talking on her ITV chatshow on Thursday, the Scottish presenter, 61, encouraged viewers to 'be sensible' as she lamented people meeting in large crowds. Revellers have been making the most of their newfound freedom this week after coronavirus restrictions were partially lifted on Monday, allowing up to six people or two households of any size to meet outdoors.
There will a minimum of five weeks between each step of easing restrictions in England to allow for coronavirus-related data to be assessed against four tests:
The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.
Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing the number admitted to hospital and deaths in those vaccinated.
Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospital admissions, which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
The assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants of concern.
– What is happening in Scotland?
Outdoor mixing between four people from up to two households is already allowed, along with outdoor non-contact sports and organised group exercise.
The country’s “stay at home” order is to be removed on April 2, with Scots instead advised to “stay local”.
From April 5, click-and-collect retail services, along with garden centres, car dealerships, homeware stores and barbers and hairdressers, will also be able to reopen.
Scotland will then move out of lockdown and return to a levels system – starting with a “modified level three” – on April 26.
Boris Johnson unveils traffic light system for international travel
Boris Johnson today refused to commit to his roadmap date of May 17 for resuming non-essential international travel as the Government again told Britons to wait to book a summer holiday abroad. The Prime Minister's lockdown exit strategy said foreign holidays would return 'no earlier than' the middle of May. But the initial findings of a Whitehall review on the subject said the 'state of the pandemic abroad, and the progress of vaccination programmes in other countries' means ministers are 'not yet in a position to confirm that non-essential international travel can resume from that point'.
On the same date, travel restrictions across the country will be dropped, and a host of other venues are allowed to reopen, including libraries, museums and galleries, gyms and pools.
– And Northern Ireland?
All school children are due to be back in classes by April 12, after a phased return was accelerated on Monday.
You can form one bubble with one other household – a household cannot be part of more than one bubble. More info:
— nidirect (@nidirect)
The wider lockdown restrictions will be reviewed on April 15, but significant changes before then include:
From April 1, up to six people from no more than two households can meet outdoors in a private garden.
Up to 10 people, from no more than two households, are able to participate in outdoor sporting activities, but clubhouses and changing rooms will remain closed.
Click-and-collect purchases allowed from garden centres and plant nurseries.
From April 12, up to 10 people from no more than two households can meet outdoors in a private garden.
Click and collect at all non-essential retail outlets.
– What about in Wales?
Coronavirus restrictions in Wales were eased on Saturday to allow people to stay in self-contained holiday accommodation.
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The stay local rule in Wales is now lifted.
If you live in Wales, you can stay in self-contained accommodation with your own household or support bubble.
Children’s organised outdoor activities, some outdoor areas and libraries can reopen.
— Welsh Government #KeepWalesSafe (@WelshGovernment)
The country’s “stay local” requirement has also been lifted, meaning there are no travel restrictions within Wales for the first time since it entered lockdown on December 20.
Other changes to Wales’ coronavirus rules from Saturday include allowing up to six people from two different households to meet and exercise outdoors, as well as organised outdoor activities and sports for under-18s.
Wales has already reopened hairdressers and allowed most school pupils to resume face-to-face teaching, with all pupils and college students expected to return to classrooms after the Easter break.
Supermarkets have been allowed to resume selling non-essential items and garden centres have also reopened, with the rest of non-essential retail and close contact services expected to reopen from April 12.
Greece travel corridor brought in 'a large amount of virus', say UK experts .
The government's decision to allow free travel to and from Greece last summer could have had a significant impact on the spread of the virus, according to a Public Health England study quietly published this week. © Other The travel corridor to Greece was left open until November The previously unreported analysis, which was conducted by PHE and the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium, revealed that Greece was the largest source of imported infections between June and September, making up 21% of new cases, compared with 16% for Croatia and 14% for Spain.