The Prime Minister is due to head to Parliament today to announce everything that’s been leaked to the Sunday papers, before going on the telly to repeat himself yet again for our benefit this evening. Here’s what he’s going to announce, all you need to do is practice your surprised face…
The so-called roadmap will be split into four parts, each roughly corresponding to each of the next four months.
Stop One: March 8th
Parents nearing the ends of their tethers can take solace that there is respite in sight. Schools will return on March 8th.
The so called ‘big bang’ return will see all ages able to head back to the classroom. Boris has made it lear that education is his overriding priority, though the effects of millions of children suddenly intermingling on transmission of the virus remain a little fuzzy.
While their children run amok in the playground, parents will be able to visit elderly relatives in care homes will allow one visitor per patient, provided visitors wear PPE and take a coronavirus test.
The other big change coming on 8th March will be the being able to meet one-on-one outside to socialise and picnic.
Which, given the number of people already doing this in London’s parks and commons, you probably thought you were able to do this already.
Stop two – 29th March
Just as parents get used to the freedom of not teaching their children phonics, the Easter holidays will cruelly return them home, but fear not because phase two of the roadmap kicks in on 29th March.
Rule of Six will be resurrected, letting any six people from up to six households socialise; or any number from two households to hobnob out of doors.
The requirement to remain in local areas will also be dropped, meaning it’ll be fine to drive any distance to see family and friends. All of which combines to fulfil the PM’s promise that we’ll be back together for Easter.
It will also be fine to play golf, or else real sports, from 29th March, outdoors.
Stop three – April
There’s not a precise date yet, beyond ‘April’ for the next stage of unlocking. Ministers are keen to not over-promise given variables like vaccine rollout and new variants dictate the timeline.
But the next stage will involve hospitality operating outdoors, which means beer gardens, rooftop dining and suchlike, as well as non-essential retail finally reopening.
It may also be possible to staycate in Wales, where the Welsh First Minister has indicated that the tourism industry may be open in time for Easter, though this will not be the case in England under current plans.
Stop four – May
By May it’s hoped that restaurants will be open once again and serving indoors, while you can finally get a legal haircut again.
Stop five – June
Finally holidays should be back on. June is earmarked as the month when staycations should return. Matt Hancock has a holiday in Cornwall planned, which we’re sure he’s anxious not to miss.
Stop six – July +
The stops on the roadmap seem a little hazy by this point, and in any case remain held hostage to fortune, but it’s expected that we’re all vaccinated by this point. Which means that international travel, accompanied by some kind of vaccine passport, may be back on.
Presumably we’ll be able to return to the office, hold dinner parties, in fact all the stuff we can only vaguely remember from a year ago, once again.
Of course all these plans are entirely at the mercy of the pandemic, and a new variant ripping loose or a major hold-up in vaccinations could derail everything.
But, similarly, the government this weekend updated their expectations when it comes to vaccine roll-out, bringing forward plans based on their rapid deployment and high uptake. And so it seems perfectly possible that if all the numbers go in the right direction some of this roadmap could also be accelerated…