Pubs not likely to open until May under three-step plan to release from lockdown

Non-essential shops could reopen in April followed by pubs and restaurants in May under a ‘three-step plan’ out of lockdown, according to reports.

Boris Johnson said there will be a ‘gradual and phased’ approach to lifting restrictions, with the national lockdown in place until at least March 8, and a review before then in mid-February.

The PM announced that schools will not reopen immediately after February half-term, and that new border restrictions will be put in place for travellers arriving in the UK from certain countries.

If schools do return in March, it could be followed by most shops reopening a month later in April, and pubs and restaurants opening their doors in May, a source told The Telegraph.

But the roadmap out of lockdown remains dependent on the success of the vaccination programme, the capacity of the NHS and the Covid death rate.

Mr Johnson said the national lockdown would initially last until the middle of February but the spread of a mutant strain of coronavirus has forced ministers to rethink their plans.

The Government is aiming to vaccinate 15 million people in the top four priority groups by February 15, including everyone over 70, NHS staff and the clinically vulnerable who’ve been shielding for months.

Speaking in the Commons yesterday, the PM said the results of a review on February 22 would form the Government’s plan to take the country out of lockdown.

The PM said: ‘Our plan for leaving the lockdown will set out our approach towards reopening schools. If we achieve our target of vaccinating everyone in the four most vulnerable groups with their first dose by February 15, and every passing day sees more progress toward that goal, then those groups will that have developed immunity from the virus about three weeks later.

‘That is by March 8. We hope it will therefore be safe to begin the reopening schools from Monday, March 8, with other economic and social restrictions being removed then or thereafter, as and when the data commits.’

Mr Johnson also said free schools meals and vouchers would be prolonged until children returned to the classroom.

He also noted that the Government would be launching a ‘catch up programme’, involving £300 million put towards tutoring in schools, and said there would be a further ‘long-term plan’ to support pupils who have missed out in their learning.

Gavin Williamson previously stated that parents and schools would receive at least two weeks’ notice before schools reopen, and pledged to set out a plan of action for both parties this week.

Government sources have claimed that ministers are in favour of getting exam-level students back into the classroom first, followed by primary school aged pupils.

It is also thought that schools in different areas could reopen on different timelines, depending on how at-risk the region is.

The announcement came as Sir Keir Starmer backed a group of headteachers’ calls for all school staff to receive the vaccine next month. The group has presented an ambitious scheme which would involve 150 independent schools and state academies becoming vaccination hubs.

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