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MP Robert Halfon welcomes PM’s route map out of lockdown

News / Mon 22nd Feb 2021 at 08:52pm

THE Prime Minister today set out the Government’s route map to lifting the restrictions that have been placed on our lives for many months. He cited the “extraordinary success of our NHS in vaccinating more than 17.5 million people across the UK” as the key to unlocking the country.

Harlow’s MP, Robert Halfon, welcomed the route map which he said will “give certainty to businesses in Harlow”. He also strongly welcomed the return of schools on 8 March and asked the Prime Minister to ensure that Harlow pupils had the opportunities to catch up their lost learning by using “civil society to offer sporting activities, mental health and academic catch up” – not by putting an extra burden on teachers and support staff.

In response to Mr Halfon’s question, the Prime Minister said that the Education Secretary would set out more details about the Government’s £1.3 billion “Catch Up” fund later this week.

The Prime Minister also said, getting children back into school has been the top priority, and so from 8 March all children and students will return to face to face education in schools and college. By this point, everyone in the top four vaccine priority cohorts – as determined by the independent JCVI – will have received the first dose of their vaccine and developed the necessary protection from it.

Also from this date:

Wraparound childcare and other supervised children’s activities can resume where they enable parents to work, seek work, attend education, seek medical care or attend a support group

Care home residents will be allowed one regular visitor provided they are tested and wear PPE

The Stay at Home requirement will remain, but people can leave home for recreation outdoors such as a coffee or picnic with their household or support bubble, or with one person outside their household

Some university students on practical courses will be able to return to face to face learning

As part of step one, there will be further limited changes from 29 March, the week in which most schools will break up for Easter. Outdoor gatherings of either 6 people or 2 households will be allowed, providing greater flexibility for families to see each other. This includes in private gardens.

Outdoor sports facilities, such as tennis and basketball courts, will be allowed to reopen, and people can take part in formally organised outdoor sports.

At this point, the Stay at Home order will end, although many lockdown restrictions will remain.

For example, you should continue to work from home where possible, and overseas travel remains banned, aside for a small number of reasons.

The subsequent steps are set out as follows:

Step 2, no earlier than 12 April:

Non-essential retail, personal care premises, such as hairdressers and nail salons, and public buildings, such as libraries and community centres, will reopen.

Most outdoor attractions and settings, including zoos, and theme parks, will also reopen although wider social contact rules will apply in these settings to prevent indoor mixing between different households. Drive-in cinemas and drive-in performances will also be permitted.

Indoor leisure facilities, such as gyms and swimming pools, will also reopen – but only for use by people on their own or with their household.
Hospitality venues can serve people outdoors only. There will be no need for customers to order a substantial meal with alcohol, and no curfew – although customers must order, eat and drink while seated.
Self-contained accommodation, such as holiday lets, where indoor facilities are not shared with other households, can also reopen.
Funerals can continue with up to 30 people, and the numbers able to attend weddings, receptions and commemorative events such as wakes will rise to 15 (from 6).

Step 3, no earlier than 17 May:

Outdoors, most social contact rules will be lifted – although gatherings of over 30 people will remain illegal.

Outdoor performances such as outdoor cinemas, outdoor theatres and outdoor cinemas can reopen.. Indoors, the rule of 6 or 2 households will apply – although we will keep under review whether it is safe to increase this.
Indoor hospitality, entertainment venues such as cinemas and soft play areas, the rest of the accommodation sector, and indoor adult group sports and exercise classes will also reopen.
Larger performances and sporting events in indoor venues with a capacity of 1,000 people or half-full (whichever is lower) will also be allowed, as will those in outdoor venues with a capacity of 4000 people or half-full (whichever is lower).
In the largest outdoor seated venues where crowds can spread out, up to 10,000 people will be able to attend (or a quarter-full, whichever is lower).
Up to 30 people will be able to attend weddings, receptions and wakes, as well as funerals. Other life events that will be permitted include bar mitzvahs and christenings.

Step 4, no earlier than 21 June:

It is hoped all legal limits on social contact can be removed.
We hope to reopen nightclubs, and lift restrictions on large events and performances that apply in Step 3.

This will also guide decisions on whether all limits can be removed on weddings and other life events.

In the meantime, the vaccination programme continues at pace, with the announcement of a new target to offer a first dose of the vaccine to every adult by the end of July.

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