Lockdown exit LEAK: Boris Johnson’s ‘three-step’ masterplan to lift covid rules exposed

Boris Johnson outlines plans to ‘reopen schools in March’

Boris Johnson announced there would be a “phased” route out of lockdown yesterday, as he revealed at a press briefing schools would not be reopening after the February half-term as initially hoped. Instead, the Prime Minister said he plans to send pupils back to school from Monday, March 8, which would mark the first step in ending the current lockdown. The Government is understood to have devised two more stages to reopen the country, which includes allowing shops and pubs to open their doors again.

Officials are working on plans to reopen most shops from April and allow pubs and restaurants to welcome customers again from May, the Telegraph reports.

The reopening of schools remains a priority and no other relaxation of the lockdown is likely until pupils are back in the classroom.

The Government is considering phasing the reopening of other sectors, such as retail and hospitality, to ensure cases don’t spike once schools reopen.

Such an approach would see restrictions released at least a month apart to allow their impact to be closely monitored.

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A Whitehall source told the newspaper: “If schools do open in March, and the priority is certainly to open schools first, then it will mean other things have to remain closed for some time.

“We have to avoid the situation last time where the return of schools meant far greater household mixing across the board.

“So that means we’d be likely to wait at least another month for non-essential retail, and a month beyond that at least for pubs and restaurants.”

Mr Johnson told the House of Commons yesterday he will review the current lockdown in mid-February but didn’t rule out extending the existing restrictions.

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He said a Government team will undertake a review of data on the vaccine rollout, the impact of jabs on transmissions, the current covid infection and death rates and the impact on the NHS.

The Prime Minister said the roadmap would be presented to MPs on February 22.

He said: “I can tell the House that when Parliament returns from recess on the week beginning February 22, we intend to set out the results of that review and publish our plan for taking the country out of lockdown.”

Mr Johnson repeated this message at a Downing Street press conference last night, where he updated the nation on the state of the outbreak.

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He said: “At that moment, we will be able to review our progress, judge the state of the pandemic and the effectiveness of the vaccine, and then in the week beginning February 22 we will set out our plan not just for re-opening our schools but gradually to re-open our economy and our society and to get our lives back to as close to normal as possible.

“Now, this will be a timetable that is inevitably going to be subject to adjustment, but I believe it will provide clarity and certainty about the way ahead and a roadmap that we can take together and use as a country to defeat the virus and begin steadily to reclaim our lives.”

The Government’s plan to end the lockdown depends largely on the success of the vaccination programme.

The current aim is for 30 million to be inoculated with the first dose by March.

Yesterday a further 1,725 coronavirus deaths were announced, which takes the nation’s death toll to 101,887.

Another 25,308 cases were recorded in the latest 24 hour period, taking the number of UK cases to over 3.7 million.

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