England's COVID-19 Lockdown Exit Roadmap Statement
On Monday 22 February 2021, Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered the long-awaited four-step roadmap out of lockdown in England, giving many businesses the clarity and hope needed to plan for a return to normality by the summer, although some will have to wait longer than others to finally reopen.
As part of his announcement, the Prime Minister stressed it is crucial that the roadmap should be cautious but also irreversible and aimed to see all legal limits on social contact lifted by 21 June.
The steps will apply nationally, and decisions will be led by data, not dates. There will be a minimum of five weeks between each stage – four weeks to collect and analyse data, and then a week’s notice will be given for people and businesses to prepare for the next step.
In order to progress to the next step, four tests must be met:
- The vaccine rollout programme continues to plan
- Hospital admissions and deaths continue to fall
- Infection rates do not surge and put pressure on the NHS
- The assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants
Here is a summary of the four steps...
Step one will complete in two-parts:
- All students return to schools and colleges, and school clubs can resume
- Secondary school students will be required to wear masks in class as well as communal areas
- People can meet one other person outside for recreation, not just exercise
- Care home residents will be allowed one regular named visitor
- The ‘stay at home’ order remains in place
- Outdoor gatherings of up to six people or two households will be allowed, including meeting in private gardens
- Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts and outdoor swimming pools will be allowed to reopen; organised outdoor sports can resume
- The ‘stay at home’ order will end but people should stay local wherever they can
- Work from home wherever possible
- No overseas travel
Step 2 will happen no earlier than 12 April
- Non-essential retail, hairdressers, nail salons, libraries and museums to open
- Outdoor hospitality in pubs and restaurants allowed with households or rule-of-six
- Most outdoor settings reopen such as zoos and theme parks
- Gyms and indoor swimming pools open
- Self-catering holiday accommodation and camp sites reopen
- Funerals continue with up to 30 people
- Weddings with up to 15 people
- A review of international leisure travel restrictions will also be announced by 12 April at the earliest
Step 3 will happen no earlier than 17 May
- Outdoors most social contact rules will be lifted, up to limit of 30 people
- Mixing indoors will be allowed for two households, but rule-of-six for indoor hospitality and elsewhere
- Cinemas, soft play centres, rest of accommodation sector, hotels, indoor exercise classes return
- Performances and sporting events resume - larger performances with venues 1,000+ or half full will be allowed indoors and outdoors 4,000 capacity or half full (whichever is lowest)
- In very largest outdoor seated venues such as football stadiums up to 10,000 people allowed to attend (or 1/4 full whichever is lowest)
- Up to 30 people can attend weddings, receptions, funerals, wakes.
Step four, from no earlier than 21 June
- All legal limits on social contact will be removed with ambition to reopen final closed sectors of the economy such as nightclubs
- Hope to lift restrictions on large events and performances
- Hope to remove all limits on weddings and other "life events"
What does this mean for our sectors?
Overall, the confirmation that restrictions will begin to lift and some businesses, such as outdoor leisure facilities can begin to reopen from the 29 March is a welcome relief and a glimmer of hope that the end of a very difficult 12 months is in sight. However, there are concerns for businesses, particularly those within the hospitality sector, who must wait until at least the 12 April to begin trading, and even then, reopening will come with limitations.
Jon Patrick, Managing Director of Leisure
“Despite the vaccine programme being implemented ahead of initial targets to the most vulnerable groups across the country and just a single dose proving to have excellent effectiveness for protection against infection so far, the government’s announcement yesterday means the significant financial hardship and uncertainty for many leisure businesses continues. The return of outdoor sports at the end of March is welcome news however, many outdoor leisure activities must wait until at least the 12 April, meaning the all-important Easter holidays trading window will be missed. The health and fitness industry in particular, which comprehensively addressed issues around safety and social distancing, whilst balancing the positive impact on mental health must feel especially aggrieved. As before, the treatment of the late-night industries appears to have been almost an after-thought, with the suggestion they might open at what would traditionally be one of their quietest times of year.”
Carine Bonnejean, Managing Director of Hotels
“Hotels and B&Bs across the country were eagerly awaiting a potential reopening for the Easter break but will have to wait until the 17 May at the earliest. This news is massively frustrating for the industry, to miss out once again on an essential trading window. With restrictions on international travel still in place until May at the earliest, it is clear that staycations will boom from May onwards, particularly during summer and bookings are already pouring in. However, the next few months of closures are yet another challenge for hotel operators across the country and many businesses cannot afford to wait that long. The budget announcement on 3 March may provide a ‘waiting pill’ for some, but three more months of closure will just be fatal for many others.”
Stephen Owens, Managing Director of Pubs & Restaurants
“The Prime Minister’s announcement gives limited hope for optimism to a much-beleaguered sector that has borne the brunt of the restrictions imposed upon society throughout the whole pandemic. It is particularly disappointing that the Prime Minister did not offer clarity on the detail of what further support measures will be given to help ensure the survival of the sector. We must now wait on tenterhooks until the budget on the 3 March to see what Chancellor Rishi Sunak will provide. The sector is however nothing but resilient and hopefully with the right level of support we can all look forward to enjoying a meal out and a pint in the spring.”
With much of the hospitality sector still facing up to three months of closures, all eyes will be on the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak to deliver an adequate level of support in next week’s Budget announcement (March 3) and we will share further information and updates following his address in the House of Commons.
We have a large and experienced team on hand who can offer advice and help navigate your business through these difficult times.
Please get in touch if we can be of any support to your business at this time.
Stephen Owens FRICS MCIArb
Managing Director – Pubs & Restaurants
T +44 (0) 113 389 2726
M +44 (0) 796 800 4550
Managing Director – Hotels
T: +44 20 7227 0714
M: +44 7921 063 548
Director – Head of Leisure & Development
T +44 (0) 113 389 2710
M +44 (0) 7831 263 529