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Government roadmap out of lockdown

Following the recent announcement from government the UK is beginning its transition out of lockdown – with many businesses aiming to return to normal trading over the coming months.   

As part of a 4 step program, the government hope that by 21 June 2021 at the earliest, all limits on social contact are to be removed, along with other remaining significant restrictions in place on individuals and businesses in the UK. The UK will no longer have any significant restrictions imposed on people or businesses.  

Ahead of the 4th step in the roadmap,  Government will publish conclusions from four studies looking into how the UK should handle different aspects of COVID-19 from summer 2021 onwards. This will include reviewing guidance on working from home, with the Government stating that people should continue to work from home where they can until at least step 4, when conclusions of this study will be published.

Below is a breakdown of the 4 steps, what this means for you and your business.

March 2021

8 March 2021
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Step 1


Starting on 8 March the priority for government is to ensure that all children and students will be able to return to full time face-to-face education in both schools and colleges.  Alongside this both childcare and children’s supervised activities can also resume as normal to allow for parents to return to work.  

To ensure this is managed correctly, twice weekly rapid testing is being introduced for secondary and college pupils alongside regular testing for teachers to reduce the chance of the virus beginning to spread in schools.   

This date also applies to higher education students on practical courses in English Universities.   

Social Contact

People will continue to be allowed to leave home for recreation and exercise outdoors with their household, support bubble, or with 1 person outside of their household. Care home residents will be allowed 1 regular visitor.  

29 March
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From 29 March the government intend to allow outdoor gatherings of up to 6 people (including in private gardens) or 2 households, making it easier for friends or families to meet outside.  


Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts and open air swimming pools will be permitted to re-open, and people will be able to take part in organised sport. 


The stay at home rule will end on 29 March but restrictions will remain in place.  People are encouraged to continue working from home (where possible) and minimise the number of journeys they make.  Restrictions will continue to be in place for travel abroad including holidays overseas.  A new taskforce has been created to review international travel which will report on 12 April. 

April 2021

No earlier than 12 April 2021
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Step 2

Step 2 will see the opening of non-essential businesses in the UK, in particular retail, personal care (such as hairdressers and nail salons) and public buildings.  Indoor leisure facilities such as gyms will also re-open at step 2.  

For hospitality venues this means they can begin to serve people outdoors at step 2 and there will be no requirement for customers to order a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks – with no curfew.  

Funerals will be able to continue with up to 30 mourners, the number of people allowed to attend weddings, receptions, and commemorative events will rise to 15.

No earlier than 17 May 2021
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Step 3

Step 3 is focused on easing the limits on seeing friends and family wherever possible.  Allowing the public to decide on the appropriate level of risk for their own circumstances.  This means most restrictions on meeting outdoors will be lifted for groups up to 30 people.   

The rule of 6 or 2 households will continue to apply indoors.   

For businesses step 3 means most businesses in the highest risk sectors will be able to reopen.  All businesses, however, must adhere to COVID-Secure guidelines issued by government.  Businesses are not permitted to cater for groups that exceed the legal limit (30 people outdoors, 6 or 2 households indoors).  As part of this step the government are also expecting indoor hospitality to reopen – as with step 2 businesses will no longer be required to serve a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks.   

Indoor businesses in entertainment, accommodation, and adult group sports will also be able to reopen during step 3.  The government are also looking to allow for some larger performances, indoor sporting events with a capacity of 1,000 people (or half full), or outdoor sporting events with a capacity of 4,000 people (or half full) to take place.   

The cap on wedding, reception and other social events will also be lifted from 15 people to 30 during step 3.   

People will continue to be encouraged to work from home where possible.  

June 2021

No earlier than 21 June 2021
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Step 4

By step 4 the government hope to be able to lift all restrictions and legal limits on social contact in the UK, with appropriate mitigations in place. The guidance on working from home may also be updated at this point (see below on social distancing).

All remaining businesses expect to be reopened (including nightclubs) and ease the restrictions imposed on large events that apply in step 3, subject to the outcome of the scientific Events Research Programme (see below)

Ahead of this final step, the Government has committed to providing the conclusion of four studies looking into different elements of managing COVID-19 beyond the summer, and what this will mean for businesses and individuals beyond this date. These studies include:

  • Social distancing – The government will undertake a comprehensive review of social distancing and other long-term measures such as the 1-meter rule, the wearing of face coverings etc. This review will determine the timings and circumstances for these restrictions to be lifted. This review will also inform guidance on working from home.
  • COVID status certification – the Government will assess the benefits and impacts of whether COVID-status certification (using testing or vaccination data to confirm in different settings that people have a lower risk of transmitting COVID-19) could play a role in reopening the economy beyond summer.
  • Large events – from April the Government plans to pilot mitigation measures such as enhanced testing approaches to enable larger crowd sizes and reduced social distancing at larger events. This will form a scientific Events Research Programme, the outcomes of which will determine the extent to which restrictions can be lifted on large events at Step 4.

International travel – A new Taskforce will report to the Prime Minister and work with UK representatives of the travel sector, including airlines and airports to develop a framework that enables greater inbound and outbound travel. It will report on 12 April, and some travel restrictions may begin to be lifted no earlier than step 3. Beyond this, the Government will look to establish a long-term international framework for allowing greater travel to and from the UK.

To read the full breakdown of the lockdown easing in the UK, visit the website.

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