Lockdown roadmap: what can you do from 8 March in England - and which Covid rules will be eased next?

The first step of the government roadmap started on 8 March

The cautious exit out of lockdown started in England on 8 March.

In February, Boris Johnson unveiled a four-step plan with provisional dates for the easing of the country’s tight Covid restrictions.

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The roadmap begins in March and it is hoped that all legal limits on social contact will be lifted from 21 June.

Whether rules are eased at each step is entirely dependent on strict conditions set by the government (Getty Images)

But whether each step happens depends on the government’s four key “tests”.

So, what can you do from 8 March - and which restrictions will be eased next?

Here is everything you need to know.

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What can I do from 8 March?

Schools

The biggest change happening on 8 March is the return of schools.

Unlike the other four nations, schools in England will not return in gradual phases, with all primaries and secondaries opening back up at the same time.

But the government said the reopening was flexible, with many secondary schools opting to stagger the return to classrooms throughout the week in order to get testing set up.

Secondary and college pupils will be tested using lateral flow tests twice a week.

They will be given three initial tests in school, before parents and carers are expected to administer them at home.

After school clubs will also be able to return from 8 March.

Care homes

In a much-anticipated relaxation of restrictions, visitors will be able to go to care homes from 8 March.

That is after almost a year of forced separation from family members for most residents of care homes.

The new rule means residents will be able to nominate one person to be their regular visitor - as long as they are tested near the time of their visit and wear PPE.

Restrictions surrounding care homes have been relaxed as practically all residents have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

Socialising

People are able to socialise outside with one friend or relative from another household from 8 March.

This means friends and family will now be able to meet up and sit together in a park for a coffee, drink or picnic.

Before, restrictions meant meet-ups were limited to exercise only.

However, social distancing rules are still in place for any outdoor meet-ups.

And the stay at home order remains in place, meaning you are only allowed to see a friend in your local area.

Which restrictions will be eased next?

People will be waiting a little bit longer for any other restrictions to be eased.

The second phase of step one of the roadmap will begin on 29 March - around the time that schools break up for the Easter holidays.

If the four tests are met, from this date larger groups of six people or two households will be able to meet outside, including in private gardens.

And tennis courts, golf courses and other outdoor sport facilities will also reopen from 29 March, along with the restarting of organised sport for adults and children, like grassroots football.

All other restrictions will stay in place until 12 April, when a significant reopening of the economy could take place, including the opening of non-essential retail and outdoor hospitality.

The final two steps are scheduled for 17 May and 21 June.

What are the four tests?

Whether rules are eased at each step is entirely dependent on strict conditions set by the government.

The four tests which ministers will use to decide whether the country can progress to each stage are:

- The vaccinations programme continues successfully

- Data shows that the jabs are effective in reducing hospital numbers and deaths in those inoculated

- Infection rates do not risk a rapid increase in hospitalisations, which would result in pressure on the NHS

- The government’s assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new variants of the virus which cause concern.

The government has said the tests are currently being met which is why the first stage of the roadmap has gone ahead on 8 March.