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Roadmap to easing lockdown restrictions: What we know about the devolved nations

Boris Johnson is due to make public the government’s roadmap out of lockdown for England today (22.02.21), but the devolved nations are yet to put forward any official plans. Here’s what we know so far about the potential easing of restrictions for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Wales

Wales has been under Alert Level 4 rules since 20th December which saw people urged to stay at home, all non-essential retail closed including pubs, cafes, restaurants leisure facilities, hairdressers and beauty salons.

All indoor mixing between households was prohibited, apart from Christmas Day, and people have only been permitted to exercise outside with one other person since 30th January, leading to a significant reduction in transmission rates.

The Welsh government has given a date of 15th March for all primary school children to return to face-to-face learning. Older pupils such a years 11 and 13 will go back on a “blended learning basis if the conditions are right” in three weeks’ time, according to Mark Drakeford.

There was no given date set out for the reopening of hairdressers, and the next three weeks will be used to examine the possibility of reopening some non-essential retail shops.

However, due to the government prioritising the opening of schools, the hospitality sector has been told they are not likely to see a reopening in either of the next two three-week review periods.

“A lot can happen in six weeks”, Mark Drakeford said. “We will learn a great deal on the impact of the circulation of the virus by reopening schools and providing things continue to improve, hospitality will come onto the agenda of things we will be able to consider next.”

Scotland

Nicola Sturgeon is expected to set out plans of how restrictions will be eased across Scotland within days.

The First Minister is set to address the Scottish Parliament tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday 23rd February), although it is expected Ms Sturgeon will refrain from committing to certain dates for the reopening of sectors and instead will focus on the data and the gradual return to classroom based learning of children.

In a statement last week, she explained: “It will set out as far as possible the conditions that we think need to be met, in terms of the data, for us to start lifting restrictions.

“And it will detail the broad order of priority for re-opening, including what a return to a geographic levels approach might look like in due course. Again though, I would emphasise that if we want to keep moving in the right direction – and avoid setbacks – caution will be necessary.”

The lockdown in Scotland was extended last week until at least the end of March and there would be no there would be “no immediate changes” to the regulations in Scotland regarding meeting people outdoors. Under current rules, people in Scotland are still being urged to “stay at home” unless for essential purposes such as work and exercise.

Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Executive confirmed on Thursday (18.02.21) that lockdown restrictions would continue until at least April.

The Northern Ireland Executive put the country back into a Covid-19 lockdown from December 26th and was originally due to lift the regulations on February 6th before the restrictions were extended until March.

However, speaking on Thursday, Arlene Foster said a full lifting of the lockdown was “not possible at this time”.

The publication of a decision making framework for Northern Ireland’s pathway to recovery is expected to be made public on 1st March and should include the relaxation of some click and collect services from outlets categorised as “non-essential retail.”

The Northern Ireland Executive also agreed that outdoor gatherings will increase to 10 people from no more than two households from the 8th March and pre-school, nursery, and primary schoolchildren will return to classroom based learning from 8th March.

A full review is expected to take place on March 18 with the Northern Ireland Executive hoping this lockdown could be the last one the country has to face.

More news on restrictions for the devolved nations will be published as and when we have them. For up-to-date news on your country, visit our Coronavirus Hub.


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