When will the coronavirus lockdown end in the UK?
On January 6, England entered a third period of national lockdown, which has seen schools and non-essential bussinesses close, and people only allowed to leave their homes for essential purposes, in an effort to support the NHS – which is struggling to cope with the overload of patients brought on by new strains of coronavirus.
With the UK's vaccine rollout well under way, hopes are beginning to grow that the lockdown restrictions that have been in place for much of the past 12 months may be drawing to a close.
However, there is not concrete plans on when lockdown will begin to ease.
England's plan to ease lockdown is expected to be announced later this month, with provisional plans in place to reopen schools on March 8. When Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the current lockdown on January 4, he suggested that measures may begin to ease in “the middle of February” – however this has not been set in stone, and is dependent on the current vaccine rollout and how authorities manage to manage the emergences of new strains of coronavirus.
However Michael Gove later suggested it was more likely that lockdown would remain in place until March, telling Sky News: “I think it is right to say that, as we enter March, we should be able to lift some of these restrictions, but not necessarily all.”
Legislation on the current lockdown measures remains binding until March 31, however Mr Johnson said earlier last month that officials are hoping these measures will begin to ease well before then, albeit gradually.
Speaking to MPs on January 6, he said: “As was the case last spring, our emergence from the lockdown cocoon will not be a big bang but a gradual unwrapping.
“That is why the legislation this House will vote on later today runs until 31 March. Not because we expect the full national lockdown to continue until then, but to allow a steady, controlled and evidence-led move down through the tiers on a regional basis – carefully, brick by brick, as it were, breaking free of our confinement but without risking the hard won gains that our protections have given us.”