Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to unveil a roadmap out of lockdown, but easing of Covid restrictions will depend on four key 'tests' set by the Government.
The tests will be used by the Government to assess the impact of opening certain areas of society back up after lockdown, with the Prime Minister indicating he'll be taking a "data not dates" approach to easing restrictions.
Ahead of his address to the Commons today (Mon 22 Feb), Boris Johnson said: “Our decisions will be made on the latest data at every step, and we will be cautious about this approach so that we do not undo the progress we have achieved so far and the sacrifices each and every one of you has made to keep yourself and others safe.
“We have therefore set four key tests which must be met before we can move through each step of the plan.”
What are the four tests?
The four tests to easing England out of lockdown are as follows:
- The continued success of the vaccine deployment
- Evidence showing vaccines are effective in reducing deaths and hospitalisations in those who have received them
- Infection rates won't risk a surge in hospitalisations which would overwhelm the NHS
- Assessment of risk isn't changed by new concerning variants of the virus
The Government has indicated that the tests are currently being met, meaning that lockdown easing can move to the first stage from 8 March, when schools will reopen, and when the first four vaccination priority groups will start to see some immunity, three weeks after their initial dose.
Boris Johnson has indicated that lockdown easing will prioritise getting children back into schools and finding safe ways for people to reunite with their loved ones. The Government has also hinted that tiered local restrictions are unlikely to return, with coronavirus cases fairly evenly spread across the country.
However, Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter - a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) - indicated that the Government may be forced to introduce localised restrictions if necessary.
He told Times Radio on 21 February: “I think they are going to have to keep the possibility of having much more targeted interventions in certain areas.”