2020 and 2021 have brought us some of the most challenging months of our lives so far. Coming up on a year now since the first national lockdown began, we are finally beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel.
The recent announcement from Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined the government’s proposed plan to cautiously ease lockdown restrictions in England, revealing that we could be free of all restrictions as early as 21st June.
Following the announcement, government published a four-step roadmap to ease restrictions across England and provide a route back to a more normal way of life. Each step is to be assessed against four tests before restrictions ease. The PM was also clear that the decision on each stage will be based on data not dates.
What are the four tests for easing restrictions?
Each stage of easing lockdown will be a minimum of five weeks apart, but four conditions must be met at each stage before proceeding to the next one:
- The coronavirus vaccine programme continues to go to plan
- Vaccines are sufficiently reducing the number of people dying or needing hospital treatment
- Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospital admissions
- New coronavirus variants do not fundamentally change the risk of lifting restrictions
If all these criteria are met, the country progresses to the next phase of reduced restrictions. Currently, as of the 8th March, all children and students have returned to face-to-face education in schools and college and people can also leave home for recreation outdoors such as a coffee or picnic with their household or support bubble, or with one person outside their household.
This will remain the case until the 12th April at the earliest. If all goes according to plan, we will enter Step 2 on this date meaning more restrictions are lifted. Changes include but are not limited to:
- All non-essential retail, personal care premises, such as hairdressers and nail salons, and public buildings, such as libraries and community centres, will be allowed to reopen
- Most outdoor attractions and settings, including zoos, and theme parks, will also reopen (with added safety). Drive-in cinemas and drive-in performances will also be permitted.
- Indoor leisure facilities, such as gyms and swimming pools, will also reopen.
- Hospitality venues will also be allowed to serve people outdoors only. There will be no need for customers to order a substantial meal with alcohol, and no curfew – although customers must order, eat and drink while seated.
The next step is set to come into effect no earlier than 17 May. This will lift more restrictions; however, it is only permitted should the four criteria be met. The new restrictions will include:
- The lifting of most outdoor social contact rules – although gatherings of over 30 people will remain illegal.
- The reopening of indoor hospitality, entertainment venues such as cinemas and soft play areas, the rest of the accommodation sector, and indoor adult group sports and exercise classes.
- Larger performances and sporting events in indoor venues with a capacity of 1,000 people or half-full (whichever is lower) to be allowed, as will those in outdoor venues with a capacity of 4000 people or half-full (whichever is lower).
- In the largest outdoor seated venues where crowds can spread out, up to 10,000 people will be able to attend (or a quarter-full, whichever is lower).
And finally, the 21st June is upon us. It is hoped that by then, all legal limits on social contact can be removed and large events and performances can go ahead.
What does this mean for logistics?
From now on, the demand for logistics services will only increase as people filter back to their normal lives. The logistics industry is set to go from strength to strength as its services will be required to support the reopening of all non-essential shops, recreational activities and other businesses shut down by the pandemic.