Earlier today, the Prime Minister announced the Government’s roadmap to cautiously end the lockdown over the next few months. The first thing to note is that this applies to the whole of England - meaning an end to the tier system we experienced last year.
The Government is committed to letting us reclaim our freedom by July - something I’m sure will bring a fresh sense of optimism to everyone in Rutland and Melton.
This is possible because of the vaccination programme, and I’m proud to share that Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland lead the country, with over 250,000 first doses given and the highest uptake of the vaccine in the entirety of England amongst those aged over 70 at 99.8%! I feel a deep sense of pride in this, as, I’m sure, you do as well as it means we are all acting to save lives and reclaim our freedoms.
The Government’s roadmap is as follows:
- Schools will reopen.
- Meetings with one person from another household permitted outdoors.
- Rule of 6, or two households outdoors.
- Outdoor sport & leisure activities reopen.
- Organised outdoor sports allowed.
- Outdoor parent & child groups (up to 15 parents).
No earlier than 12th April
- Indoor leisure activities, including gyms,
- Outdoor attractions, such as zoos.
- Libraries and community centres.
- Personal care premises, including hairdressers.
- All retail.
- Outdoor hospitality.
- All children’s activities.
- Overnight stays and self-catered accommodation.
- Funerals up to 30; wakes, weddings, receptions 15.
No earlier than 17th May
- Indoor entertainment and attractions.
- 30 person limit outdoors.
- Rule of 6 or two households indoors.
- Domestic overnight stays.
- Organised indoor sport.
- 30 person limit for significant life events.
- Outdoor entertainment, including performances.
- Accommodation, including hotels.
- Some large events (subject to limits).
- International travel.
No earlier than 21st June
- No legal limits on social contact.
- Large events.
- No legal limits on life events.
See more detail here.
The Government’s intention is to be cautious and irreversible: and this is what we need. We cannot go back to a never-ending cycle of going in, and out, of lockdowns. That isn’t fair on our businesses, it isn’t fair on our children, and it isn’t fair on those vulnerable to the virus. We all require certainty after a year when we had so little.
For many, especially those in hospitality, this may seem too slow, too cautious. I know that pubs and restaurants across Rutland and Melton are desperate to open their doors to customers as soon as possible and have done much work to be able to do so safely. And I understand that frustration.
The Government has based their decisions on four tests:
- That the vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.
- That the evidence shows that the vaccines are effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths.
- That infections rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations, putting increased pressure on the NHS.
- That the assessment of risks is not fundamentally changed by any new variants of Covid.
Given that almost everyone in the most at-risk groups has now been vaccinated, I hope that the Government will be able to satisfy their tests sooner and if they are, I will press for a swifter return to freedom.
After a year of fear of the future, I hope today is the day when a light has truly appeared at the end of the tunnel. And make no mistake: we are going toward that light as fast as we can.