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Lockdown roadmap: All the key dates you need to know as the UK looks to move on from Covid-19

What does it look like for the motor industry, as well as the general dates we should all be looking out for.

On Monday 22 February, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the government's roadmap for easing Covid restrictions in England.

The key date to take note of was by June 21 at the earliest, all restrictions will be lifted, provided that four particular conditions can be met before each new step of the roadmap.

First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, also announced details of how Scotland would move out of lockdown and when restrictions would be eased. 

They are taking a slightly more cautious approach, with April 26 being the date when non-essential retail and restaurants can reopen.

This is the third lockdown for the UK since March 2020, after the coronavirus made its way to our shores at the end of January of that year.

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It's hoped - and expected - that the current lockdown will be the last, with firm government plans in place to lift certain restrictions gradually, in order to avoid a third wave of the virus.

Over 120,000 tragic deaths have occurred in the UK from this pandemic, along with many job losses, a surge in mental health problems, and a broken economy.

Before we get into the specific dates and rules that everyone will be required to follow at each stage of the roadmap, let's quickly look at the automotive industry.

Car dealers

Car dealers will be allowed to reopen their doors from April 12. After the second national lockdown in November, they were briefly allowed to be available to the general public but gradually had to close as the Tier system was implemented.

It's meant that over the past few months, vehicles have only been available to purchase online, with delivery or click and collect the only viable options to get the car.

Car dealerships are relatively easy to keep Covid-secure due to the vast amount of open space within them and the ability to easily social distance.

Driving lessons and tests

Learner drivers, like many other people around the country, have suffered due to the restrictions not allowing those from different households to mix indoors - or in this instance, in a car.

Like dealerships, driving lessons and tests were able to continue after the second lockdown, until the Tier systems came in and put a stop to all of that. 

But from April 12, these restrictions will be lifted. However, due to demand, tests are backed up for many months and there has been a lot of frustration regarding theory test certificates that expire after two years, meaning many students will now have to retake that half of the test, despite already passing.

Now that we've covered the most important automotive updates from the Prime Minister's roadmap, let's have a look at all of the new rules and regulations shortly coming into place.

How lockdown will be lifted in England

Step one is in two stages.

March 8

Schools and colleges are open to all students.

Practical Higher Education Courses will reopen for university students. There will be a review at the end of the Easter Holidays for all other students.

It's recommended that secondary school students wear face coverings in classrooms and corridors, as well as staff and parents in primary schools.

Wraparound childcare for vulnerable pupils can return.

Recreation or exercise outdoors with your household or one other person is permitted. This includes grabbing a coffee or having a picnic.

The stay-at-home guidance remains in place, meaning you can only leave for work, essential shopping, exercise, or medical appointments.

Funerals can have a maximum of 30 people in attendance, provided social distancing and face coverings are used, while wakes and weddings are a maximum of six.

Care home residents can have one regular visitor, as long as they have PPE and a lateral flow test, and they can only hold hands at most.

March 29

The rule of six or two households will be allowed outdoors, including in your garden. There will be no mixing indoors, however.

There will be no requirement to stay at home, but the government will insist that people stay as close to home as possible and take no holidays.

Outdoor sport and leisure facilities will be open. This includes courts for basketball and tennis and golf courses.

Organised outdoor sport is allowed for children and adults, meaning local football matches can restart.

Outdoor parent and child groups with up to 15 parents can return.

Step two 

At least five weeks after Step one and no earlier than April 12.

Indoor leisure - including gyms - will be open for use individually or within household groups.

The rule of six or two households outdoors, with no mixing indoors, will continue.

Outdoor attractions such as zoos, theme parks, and drive-in cinemas will reopen.

Libraries and community centres can reopen.

Personal care premises such as hairdressers and beauty salons can reopen.

All retail, not just essential, can reopen.

Outdoor hospitality including restaurants and pub gardens will be allowed to start serving customers, including alcohol, with no curfews in place.

All children's activities including indoor parent and child groups with up to 15 parents are permitted to open.

Domestic overnight stays at self-contained accommodation with your household only will be permitted. No international holidays.

Wakes, receptions, and weddings with up to 15 people in attendance are permitted. Funerals remain at a maximum of 30 people.

Event pilots will begin testing future larger-scale events such as sports, music concerts, and festivals.

Step three

At least five weeks after Step two, no earlier than May 17.

Indoor entertainment and attractions such as cinemas and museums can reopen.

A 30 person limit outdoors will be permitted. As well as the rule of six or two households indoors.

Domestic overnight stays at hotels, B&Bs and hostels will be permitted.

Organised indoor adult sport can resume, such as squash and five-a-side football.

Most significant life events such as weddings and christenings can have up to 30 people in attendance.

Remaining outdoor entertainment including performances can resume.

Some large events - except for pilots - with a capacity limit will be applied. Indoor events can have up to 1,000 people or 50% of the venue. Other outdoor events can have 4,000 people or 50%. Outdoor seated events can have 10,000 people or 25% of its capacity, such as sports stadiums.

International travel for holidays can resume, subject to review.

Step four

At least five weeks after Step three, no earlier than June 21.

No legal limits on social contact.

Nightclubs can reopen.

Larger events such as professional sport, concerts, and festivals can resume with no capacity limit.

No legal limits on all life events such as weddings and funerals.

Four tests for easing restrictions

However, for each step to be achieved, four different tests need to be met to allow us to jump to the next one. 

The four conditions that will be reviewed every five weeks are:

  1. The vaccine programme continues to be a success and gets through the different groups quickly.
  2. There is clear evidence that the vaccine is reducing the number of deaths and hospital admissions.
  3. The infection rate is kept to a minimum and not increasing hospital admissions.
  4. New variants are kept at bay and don't pose a significant risk to both those that have been vaccinated and not vaccinated.

Summary

It seems that life as we previously know it could be returning in the not-too-distant future, which is amazing news for everyone. Providing the four conditions are met, we could be back hugging relatives, sinking a pint in the pub with mates, or watching the European Champions final with a full 90,000 fans at Wembley Stadium.

Fingers crossed everything goes to plan, and our lives can resume as quickly as possible, as we look to put a nightmare year for us all behind.

All information within this article is correct as per the official government website.

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