Monday 22 February 2021 7:01 am

Boris Johnson unveils 'four tests' to lifting lockdown restrictions

Boris Johnson has announced a four-step plan to reopen the country from months of lockdown, as he prepares to set out his “roadmap” later today.

By the end of next month two households, or up to six people, will be able to meet outdoors for the first time in 2021 under the Prime Minister’s new plans.

Johnson is expected to announce that “stay at home” orders will be lifted from 29 March. Local facilities such as tennis courts and football pitches will reopen from that date.

Read more: What will Boris Johnson’s ‘roadmap’ for exiting lockdown look like?

The PM will also announce that school sports will be allowed when children return to classrooms on 8 March and all organised outdoor sport will be permitted from 29 March.

However, Johnson is not expected to announce any further dates beyond March, with ministers keen to reopen society gradually over the next few months.

Johnson will unveil four new tests that will determine whether other parts of the economy can reopen, such as non-essential shops, pubs and restaurant.

Those include:

  • Ensuring the vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.
  • Gaining new evidence that shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
  • Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
  • The government’s assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new “variants of concern”

The four tests will be applied to restrictions slowly over a period of at least four months. Social distancing rules and guidance to work from home will remain in place in the near term.

Read more: Hancock suggests Covid restrictions likely to last past May

Johnson said: “Our priority has always been getting children back into school which we know is crucial for their education as well as their mental and physical wellbeing, and we will also be prioritising ways for people to reunite with loved ones safely.”

The roadmap was signed off by key cabinet ministers yesterday. It will go to the full Cabinet this morning, with Johnson set to announced the measures in the Commons at around 3.30pm and a press conference around 7pm.