England’s lockdown to be eased on 12 April as planned

The Prime Minister has tonight set out the government’s latest Covid-19 update. 

Despite announcing that lockdown restrictions in England are to ease further from the 12 April, the Prime Minister cautioned the UK population not to “be complacent” – a message that remains at the heart of the government briefings. 

England will be entering step two of the government’s roadmap to cautiously ease lockdown restrictions on the 12 April. 

The changes from this date include the reopening of:

  • Shops and gyms.
  • Zoos, theme parks, and drive-in cinemas and performance events.
  • Libraries and community centres.
  • Holiday campsites and self-contained holiday accommodation, which can be occupied only by members of the same household.
  • Personal care establishments such as hairdressers, spas, and beauty and nail salons.
  • Outdoor hospitality and beer gardens, which can now serve food and alcohol with no curfew.

Other changes on this date include the number of care home visitors per resident increasing from one to two, and up to fifteen guests now being permitted at weddings. 

The briefing also included Professor Chris Witty highlighting the government’s four tests used to monitor the easing of lockdown. 

The tests assess the vaccine deployment programme, the reduction in hospitalisations and deaths, the risk of a surge in infection rates putting unsustainable pressure on the NHS, and new variants of concern. 

These tests measure the safety and appropriateness of moving through each step of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown.

Mr Johnson said that the current lifting of restrictions is “fully justified by the data which show that we’re meeting our four tests for easing the lockdown.”

This comes as 31.6 million people in the UK have received their first dose of the vaccine, with 5.4 million of these people having also received their second dose.

 Statistical evidence points to the success of the vaccination programme, with clinical trials revealing that after one dose of the vaccine there was an 80% reduction in hospitalisations. 

From the 1 April, there have been 3536 people hospitalised, with the average number of deaths falling from its peak of 1300 per day, to 47. 

Despite the government publishing an update on a series of reviews into the potential use of Covid-19 status certificates, mass events, international travel, and social distancing rules, we will have to wait longer to hear a more detailed plan of action in the following weeks as further evidence surrounding Covid-19 is gathered. 

Such a detailed plan remains dependent on the outcome of the surge in Covid-19 across Europe in recent weeks. 

With Mr Johnson reiterating that cases are expected to rise once more in the UK, the Prime Minister urged the population to make use of the free NHS testing service, which can be obtained from pharmacies, local test sites, or from the government website which offers a delivery service.

On the issue of living with Covid beyond 21 June – the government’s final date in their easing of lockdown map – the prime minister would only comment on the potential for a Covid-19 status certificate to be used in the future. 

Such a certificate could be used to prevent the spread of the virus at mass gatherings, and when travelling internationally. 

However, Mr Johnson reassured the population that Covid-19 status certificates are not on the table in steps two and three of the easing of restrictions, whilst noting the “complicated ethical and practical issues” a vaccination status would present.  

Insofar as how these measures will affect students, the road out of lockdown and back to student life remains unclear. 

The final easing of restrictions on the 21 June is dependent on the progress we see being made in the following weeks. 

For now, students across England can enjoy socialising with friends in local beer gardens, with hope remaining for the return of nightclubs this summer.

For students studying in Scotland, the decline in Covid infections and the success of the vaccination programme can see us expect further easing of lockdown restrictions shortly after England, from the 26 April. 

From this date, mainland Scotland is expected to move down to level three, and Scotland’s islands to level two. 

This would allow for the reopening of shops, gyms, libraries, and pubs and restaurants able to serve customers outdoors.

Image: Flickr

By Kate Sinclair

Politics student and Features editor at The Student. Interested in environmental politics and social justice.