Boris Johnson announces lockdown easing restrictions on May 17 as PM sets out plans to level up the UK
Lockdown restrictions will be eased next Monday as part of the government road map to lifting all legal restrictions
The coronavirus pandemic has caused businesses to shut down across the UK with nationwide restrictions in place. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced lockdown restrictions will ease from next Monday, allowing indoor hospitality to open and household mixing as the government set out its legislative agenda for the year in the Queen’s speech.
Under the next stage of government lifting, restaurants, pubs and other hospitality venues such as cinemas and soft play areas are allowed to reopen indoors. People will be able to meet in groups of up to 30 outdoors, while six people or two households can meet indoors. People are also likely allowed to stay overnight with those outside their household bubble. Up to 30 people are allowed to attend weddings, receptions, wakes as well as funerals, along with indoor group sports and exercise classes. Indoor entertainment such as museums, cinemas and children’s play areas can open. Theatres, concert halls, conference centres and sports stadiums can all reopen, organised adult sports and exercise classes can restart indoors steam rooms and saunas may reopen. Hotels, hostels and B&Bs can also reopen.
On Friday, the government announced that 12 destinations will be placed on England’s travel green list, meaning anyone returning from those areas will no longer be required to quarantine from 17 May. Health Minister Nadine Dorries said the data is looking extremely positive but urged people to take this step a little bit cautiously to protect those who may vulnerable to contracting the virus.
The Queen has made her speech on Tuesday in her first public ceremonial duty since the death of her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh. The speech unveiled 30 planned new laws for the year ahead, as the Prime Minister announced plans to level up the country. Boris Johnson has vowed the new laws to reform education and promised the end the criminal waste of talent in parts of the UK by spreading opportunity more evenly. I’m revolutionising the system so we can move past the outdated notion that there is only one route up the career ladder, and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to retrain or upskill at any point in their lives, Mr Johnson said.
The prime minister told MPs: “We intend to unite and level up across the whole of our United Kingdom because we one nation Conservatives understand this crucial point – that you will find flair and imagination and enthusiasm and genius distributed evenly across this country while the opportunity is not. And we need to change that because it is not just a moral and social disgrace, it is an economic mistake. It is a criminal waste of talent. And though we cannot for one moment minimise the damage that Covid has done – the loss of learning, the NHS backlogs, the courts delays, the massive fiscal consequences – we must use this opportunity to achieve a national recovery so that jabs, jabs jabs becomes jobs, jobs, jobs.”
The new planned laws include an A Skills and Post-16 Education Bill for England, with loans for adults wanting to retrain and more powers to deal with failing colleges, a bill aimed at deterring asylum seekers from crossing the English Channel, a bill to ease planning controls and increase housebuilding in England, plans to improve bus and train service connectivity in England and new laws to scrap the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, meaning it will be easier for Mr Johnson to call an early general election before 2024.
Downing Street said an Employment Bill would be introduced “when the time is right”, citing the pandemic as the reason for the delay. Mr Johnson has also committed to setting up a “full, proper” public inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic, which could begin in the coming year, in response to a question from Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey.
Monday’s announcement on lockdown easing will be stage three on the government’s road map, with the final stage scheduled for June 21 with hopes to remove all legal restrictions including social contact. More than 35.3 million people have received one Covid vaccine dose and 17.6 million people have had both doses.
Mr Johnson said: “The data reflects what we already knew – we are not going to let this virus beat us. “The roadmap remains on track, our successful vaccination programme continues – more than two-thirds of adults in the UK have now had the first vaccine – and we can now look forward to unlocking, cautiously but irreversibly.”
With lockdown restrictions easing up, the future looks promising with infection levels low and the successful roll-out of vaccines in a bid to combat the virus.