The four-step roadmap to safe exit from lockdown


The government’s four-step roadmap offers a route back to more normal life. From 8th March, people in England will see restrictions start to lift.

Our safe exit from lockdown will take place in four steps, and at each step restrictions will be lifted across the whole of England at the same time.

There will be a minimum of five weeks between each step – four weeks for the scientific data to reflect changes and for these to be analysed, followed by one week’s advance notice of further easements.

The Four Tests

Only when the government is sure that it is safe to move from one step to the next will the final decision be made. Decisions will be based on four tests.

Test 1

The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.

Test 2

Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.

Test 3

Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations, which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.

Test 4

The government’s assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.*

* A Variant of Concern is a variant of the SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) virus that causes concern because of the way it has mutated and how this might affect its behaviour.

Step 1 – 8th to 29th March

From 8th March:

  • All children and students can safely return to schools and colleges. There will be twice-weekly rapid testing for secondary and college students, in addition to regular testing for all teachers.
  • Childcare and children’s supervised activities can also resume, including after-school sports and outdoor activities.
  • People will be allowed to leave home for recreation and exercise outdoors with their household or support bubble, or with one other person from outside their household.
  • Care home residents will also be allowed one regular visitor.

From 29th March:

  • Outdoor gatherings (including in private gardens) of either up to 6 people (the Rule of 6) or up to 2 households will be allowed.
  • Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts, and open-air swimming pools, will be allowed to reopen, and people will be able to take part in formally organised outdoor sport.
  • All outdoor supervised children’s activities can restart, as can outdoor parent-and-child groups (for a maximum of 15 people, excluding under 5s).
  • The ‘stay at home’ rule will end on 29th March but many restrictions will remain. People should continue to work from home where possible and minimise journeys.
  • Travel abroad will remain prohibited, other than for a small number of permitted reasons.

Step 2 – after 12th April

  • Step 2 will see the opening of non-essential retail: personal care premises such as hairdressers and nail salons, and public buildings including libraries and community centres.
  • Indoor leisure facilities such as gyms will also reopen (but only for use by people on their own or in household groups), as will most outdoor attractions and settings including outdoor hospitality venues, zoos, theme parks etc.
  • Self-contained accommodation such as campsites and holiday lets, where indoor facilities are not shared with other households, can also reopen.
  • Hospitality venues will be allowed to serve people outdoors and there will be no need for customers to order a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks and no curfew, although customers must order, eat and drink while seated (table service).
  • Wider social contact rules will still apply in all these settings to prevent indoor mixing between different households.
  • Funerals can continue with up to 30 mourners. The number of people able to attend weddings, receptions and commemorative events such as wakes will rise to 15.
  • All indoor supervised children’s activities can restart, including sport and parent-and-child groups.
  • You can stay away from home – but must not mix with other households indoors and should still minimise travel as much as possible. International holidays are still not allowed.

Step 3 – after 17th May

  • By no later than Step 3, the government will also update the advice on social distancing between friends and family.
  • The rest of the accommodation sector will reopen. You should still minimise travel away from home.
  • Most restrictions on meeting others outdoors will be lifted – although gatherings of over 30 people will not be permitted.
  • Indoors, the Rule of 6 or a larger group from up to 2 households will apply.
  • Indoor hospitality and entertainment venues will reopen, but they must provide table service.
  • Indoor entertainment and attractions, including cinemas, museums and soft play will reopen.
  • All indoor adult group sports and exercise classes can resume.
  • Some larger performances and sporting events in indoor and outdoor venues can resume with capacity limits.
  • Up to 30 people will be able to attend most significant life events, including weddings, receptions, funerals, wakes, christenings and bar mitzvahs.

Before Step 4 begins

The government will complete a review of social distancing and other measures that have been put in place to cut transmission. This will enable decisions to be made on when and how to lift the rules on 1 metre plus, the wearing of face coverings etc.

This will also inform guidance on working from home – which should continue wherever possible until the review is complete.

Step 4 – after 21st June

By Step 4 the government expects to be in a position to remove all legal limits on social contact.

All remaining premises should be able to reopen, including nightclubs, and restrictions should be eased on large events and performances that apply in Step 3.

This will be subject to the results of a scientific Events Research Programme to test the outcome of pilot events through the spring and summer.

As we move through each of these steps, we must all remember that Covid-19 remains a part of our lies and we must continue to get tested, and to carry on with practising hands, face, space and letting fresh air in.

For more information on what you can and cannot do under the current restrictions, please visit My Local Area.