Covid-19 – Latest Guidance – Roadmap to the easing of restrictions 6.30pm 22 February 2021

John Cook


  • The PM made a statement to the House of Commons today and set out the ‘Roadmap’ for the easing of restrictions.  The full detailed guidance is here – COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021.
  • The PM will give a press conference at 7pm.
  • The Government aims for everyone who is 50 and over, or at risk, to have been offered a first dose of the vaccine by 15 April, and for everyone aged 18 and over to have been offered a first dose by 31 July.
  • The roadmap, set out in chapter 3, outlines four tests for easing restrictions:-
  1. The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.
  2. Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
  3. Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
  4. Our assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.
  • There are four steps to the easing of restrictions (more details below)
  • It takes around four weeks for the data to reflect the impact of the previous step and the Government will provide a further week’s notice to individuals and businesses before making changes.
  • The roadmap therefore sets out indicative, “no earlier than” dates for the steps which are five weeks apart. These dates are wholly contingent on the data and are subject to change if the four tests are not met.
  • In the absence of significant regional disparity, the Government will ease restrictions at the same time across the whole of England.
  • Due to the current relatively uniform spread of the virus across the country, the four steps out of lockdown set out in the roadmap are designed to apply to all regions.

The Four Steps


From 8 March 2021

  • You will be allowed to spend time in outdoor public spaces for recreation on your own, with one other person, or with your household or support bubble. This means you can sit down for a drink or picnic. You must continue to maintain social distance from those outside your household. This is in addition to outdoor exercise, which is already permitted.
  • pupils and students in all schools and Further Education settings will be able to return to face-to-face education.
  • Wraparound childcare can reopen and other children’s activities can restart for all children where it is needed to enable parents to work, attend education, seek medical care or attend a support group. Vulnerable children can attend childcare and other children’s activities in all circumstances.
  • Students on practical Higher Education courses at English universities who have not already returned and would be unable to complete their courses if they did not return to take part in practical teaching, access specialist facilities or complete assessments will be able to return.
  • There will continue to be restrictions on international travel. Holidays will not be a permitted reason to travel.
  • Those seeking to leave the UK must complete an outbound declaration of travel form ahead of departure.
  • The rules on visiting care homes will change to allow regular indoor visits for a single named visitor.
  • The Clinically Extremely Vulnerable are advised not to attend work, school or education until 31 March.
  • The Government also recommends that the use of face coverings in Higher Education, Further Education and secondary schools is extended for a limited period to all indoor environments – including classrooms – unless 2m social distancing can be maintained.
  • Face coverings are now also recommended in early years and primary schools for staff and adult visitors in situations where social distancing between adults is not possible, for example, when moving around in corridors and communal areas.

All children will once again be expected to attend school, as they were in the autumn term.

From 29 March

  • People will be able to meet outside in groups up to a maximum of 6 people (the Rule of 6) or with one other household, though people from different households will still need to socially distance from each other. This will apply in all outdoor settings, including private gardens.
  • Outdoor sports facilities to reopen.  These facilities, such as tennis and basketball courts, and swimming pools, can be used by people in line with the wider social contact limits.
  • Formally organised outdoor sports – for adults and under 18s – can also restart and will not be subject to the gatherings limits, but should be compliant with guidance issued by national governing bodies.
  • All children will be able to access any outdoor childcare and supervised activities.
  • Parent and child groups can also take place outdoors with a limit of 15 attendees (children under five years of age do not count towards the attendee limit.)
  • Minimise travel.
  • No holidays.


No earlier than 12 April

  • Social contact rules in England will not change further at this point. Outdoor gatherings must still be limited to 6 people or 2 households as in Step 1, and no indoor mixing will be allowed unless otherwise exempt.
  • Additional premises will be able to reopen but should only be visited alone or with household groups: non-essential retail; personal care premises such as hairdressers, salons and close contact services; and indoor leisure facilities such as gyms and spas (but not including saunas and steam rooms, which are due to open at Step 3).
  • Overnight stays away from home in this country will be permitted and self-contained accommodation – those that do not require shared use of bathing, entry/exit, catering or sleeping facilities – can also reopen, though must only be used by members of the same household.
  • The Government will open public buildings such as libraries and community centres.
  • Activities such as driving tests may also resume.
  • The majority of outdoor settings and attractions can also reopen, including outdoor hospitality, zoos, theme parks, drive-in cinemas and drive-in performances events. The rules on social contact outdoors will apply in these settings.
  • Hospitality venues will be able to open for outdoor service, with no requirement for a substantial meal to be served alongside alcoholic drinks, and no curfew. The requirement to order, eat and drink while seated (‘table service’) will remain.
  • People should continue to work from home where they can, minimise domestic travel where they can.
  • International holidays will still be prohibited.
  • The Government will take a decision on extending the number of care home visitors to two per resident and set out a plan for the next phase of visits.
  • All children will be able to attend any indoor children’s activity, including sport, regardless of circumstance. Parent and child groups of up to 15 people (not counting children aged under five years old) can restart indoors.
  • Funerals can continue to proceed with up to 30 attendees. Weddings, receptions, and commemorative events including wakes will be able to take place with up to 15 attendees (in premises that are permitted to open).
  • Event pilots begin.


No earlier than 17 May

  • All but the most high-risk sectors will be able to reopen. In all sectors, COVID-Secure guidance will remain in place and premises must not cater for groups larger than the legal limits. Sectors which will reopen include:
  • A. Indoor hospitality, with no requirement for a substantial meal to be served alongside alcoholic drinks, and no curfew. The requirement to order, eat and drink while seated (‘table service’) will remain;
  • B. Remaining outdoor entertainment, such as outdoor theatres and cinemas;
  • C. Indoor entertainment, such as museums, cinemas and children’s play areas;
  • D. Remaining accommodation, such as hotels, hostels and B&Bs;
  • E. Adult indoor group sports and exercise classes; and
  • F. Some large events, including conferences, theatre and concert performances and sports events. Controlled indoor events of up to 1,000 people or 50% of a venue’s capacity, whichever is lower, will be permitted, as will outdoor events with a capacity of either 50% or 4,000 people, whichever is lower. The Government will also make a special provision for large, outdoor, seated venues where crowds can be safely distributed, allowing up to 10,000 people or 25% of total seated capacity, whichever is lower.
  • In addition, pilots will run as part of the Events Research Programme to examine how such events can take place without the need for social distancing using other mitigations such as testing.
  • At this step, weddings, receptions, funerals, and commemorative events including wakes can proceed with up to 30 attendees.
  • A broader range of stand-alone life events will also be permitted at this step, including bar mitzvahs and christenings.
  • The Government will further ease limits on social contact, enabling the public to make informed personal decisions. It will remain important for people to consider the risks for themselves, taking into account whether they and those they meet have been vaccinated or are at greater risk.
  • The Government will continually review the evidence of vaccine efficacy, including its impact on transmission. As soon as possible, and no later than Step 3, the Government will update its advice on social distancing between friends and family, including hugging. Until then, people should continue to keep their distance from anyone not in their household or support bubble, and keep up habits such as regular hand washing and letting in fresh air.
  • The Government will lift most legal restrictions on meeting others outdoors, but gatherings of more than 30 people outdoors will remain illegal.
  • Indoors, people will be able to meet socially in a group of 6, or with 1 other household, though it may be possible to go further than this at Step 3 depending on the data.
  • People will be asked to follow guidance on how to meet safely, for example by minimising the size of gatherings and meeting outdoors where possible.
  • The Government will continue to advise the public to work from home where they can.
  • The Global Travel Taskforce will report on 12 April with recommendations aimed at facilitating a return to international travel as soon as possible while still managing the risk from imported cases and Variants of Concern. Following that, the Government will determine when international travel should resume, which will be no earlier than 17 May.


No earlier than 21 June

  • Remove all legal limits on social contact, publishing accompanying guidance on how best to reduce the risk of transmission and protect ourselves and loved ones;
  • Reopen the remaining closed settings, including nightclubs and enable large events, including theatre performances, above the Step 3 capacity restrictions, subject to the outcome of the scientific Events Research Programme and potentially using testing to reduce the risk of infection, subject to further evaluation; and
  • Remove all limits on weddings and other life events, subject to the outcome of the scientific Events Research Programme.

COVID status certification

  • COVID status certification involves using testing or vaccination data to confirm in different settings that people have a lower risk of transmitting COVID-19 to others.
  • The Government will review whether COVID-status certification could play a role in reopening our economy, reducing restrictions on social contact and improving safety. This will include assessing to what extent certification would be effective in reducing risk, and the potential uses to enable access to settings or a relaxation of COVID-Secure mitigations.

Guidance for Schools
Schools coronavirus (COVID-19) operational guidance (applies from 8 March) was published today. This 67 page guidance applies to all schools in England, including:

  • primary schools
  • secondary schools (including sixth forms)
  • special schools, special post-16 providers and alternative provision
  • 16 to 19 academies
  • infant, junior, middle, upper schools
  • boarding schools

Much of the content in this guidance will be familiar, as it replicates what was in place for the autumn term. Specific changes include:

  • use of face coverings in classrooms for secondary age pupils and staff
  • mandatory attendance expectations in different school phases
  • current expectations for clinically extremely vulnerable pupils and staff
  • curriculum expectations
  • elective home education
  • exams

Key points

  • From 8 March, all pupils should attend school.
  • Secondary pupils will be offered testing from 8 March.
  • Recommend in secondary schools, that face coverings should be worn in classrooms or during activities unless social distancing can be maintained. This does not apply in situations where wearing a face covering would impact on the ability to take part in exercise or strenuous activity, for example in PE lessons.
  • In primary schools, recommend that face coverings should be worn by staff and adult visitors in situations where social distancing between adults is not possible (for example, when moving around in corridors and communal areas).
  • Children in primary school do not need to wear a face covering.
  • This additional precautionary measure is for a limited time during this period of high coronavirus (COVID-19) prevalence in the community.
  • These measures will be in place until Easter. As with all measures, the Government will keep it under review and update guidance at that point.

General Guidance
The general coronavirus guidance starts here:-

John Cook – Solicitor

John Cook

I am a qualified Solicitor with over 30 years’ experience running a business, managing a team, appearing in the Employment Tribunal and advising on almost every conceivable employment law and HR issue. Clients appreciate my down to earth and straight forward approach that allows them to achieve results and manage their organisation more effectively. I take the worry out of employment law and HR issues with a proactive and robust approach.