Boris Johnson is expected to outline his ‘road map’ this afternoon detailing how he plans to lead the country out of a third national lockdown.

The Prime Minister has said easing England’s lockdown will be based on a “cautious and prudent approach”, as he was urged to focus on data rather than dates when lifting restrictions.

Mr Johnson has been clear that he wants this lockdown to be the last.

He urged the public to be “both optimistic but also patient” ahead of announcing plans saying, “we want progress to be cautious but also irreversible.”

Here is what the Prime Minister is expected to outline today. 

“Road map”

Boris Johnson will provide details of the government’s road map for the first time however plans may not be as clear as we expect.

Mr Johnson is unlikely to give specific dates other than when schools could return due to the ever-changing situation.

The Prime Minister has previously said that he will be driven by “data, not dates” when he outlines his plans and has suggested the easing of lockdown will be a slow process.

Speaking last week at the mass vaccination centre in Cwmbran, South Wales, he said: “We'll be setting out what we can on Monday about the way ahead and it'll be based firmly on a cautious and prudent approach to coming out of lockdown in such a way to be irreversible.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Boris Johnson will outline plans to ease lockdown today. (PA)Boris Johnson will outline plans to ease lockdown today. (PA)

An opening date for schools

The government have been persistent in saying that the reopening of schools in England remains a priority and today the Prime Minister is expected to give a definite date for when schools will reopen in England.

March 8 was earmarked as the date pupils will return to schools although that date is not yet set in stone.

Teachers, parents and pupils were promised at least two weeks’ notice to prepare for a return to classrooms meaning the Prime Minister will have to confirm that date today for that to be the case.

Since his initial pledge of reopening schools on March 8, Mr Johnson has said ministers are “doing everything we can” to see children return to classrooms by then “if we possibly can”.

It is also clear the government would like to see children’s team sports return as soon as possible with ministers predicting this could begin as early as next month.

It is thought socialising in parks and public spaces with one other person will also be permitted in a fortnight when the rules are relaxed to allow people to sit down for a drink or picnic.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The reopening of schools remains the priority. (PA)The reopening of schools remains the priority. (PA)

Timeline

The longer-term picture of the Government’s plans is as yet unclear, but the Prime Minister is likely to outline when we can expect things to reopen.

Previous speculation placed non-essential shops alongside outdoor recreation and socialising as the next areas targeted for easing after schools.

Various reports also suggested hospitality could return at some point between the Easter weekend and May, with an initial focus on outdoor provision.

Elsewhere, it was claimed ministers were looking at plans for people who live in the same household to be allowed to go on holiday breaks together from April.

More details may yet be revealed by the Prime Minister today, while much will depend on the success of the vaccine rollout and the Government’s ongoing assessment of Covid-related data.

The Prime Minister said his road map will contain four tests for easing restrictions.

The Government will take into account the success of the vaccines rollout, whether there is evidence they are reducing hospital admissions and deaths, the level of infection rates and the presence of any new Covid variants.

Such data will be examined ahead of each step along the road map before measures are unlocked any further.

Vaccine rollout update

The success of the vaccine rollout will have a big effect on Boris Johnson’s plans to ease lockdown in the months to come.

This means we can expect an update on the vaccine rollout from the Prime Minister.

A total of 17,582,121 people in the UK have received a first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, according to Government figures published on February 21.

This is the equivalent of 26.3% of the total UK population, and 33.4% of people aged 18 and over.

A total of 14,844,087 people had received a first dose of Covid-19 vaccine up to February 20, according to NHS England.

This is the equivalent of 26.4% of the total population of England, and 33.5% of people aged 18 and over, based on the latest population estimates from the Office for National Statistics.

The latest available breakdown for age groups in England is for doses given up to February 14.

By this date, an estimated 93.4% of people aged 80 and over had received their first dose, along with 99.3% of people aged 75-79 and 92.3% of people aged 70-74.

A total of 94.5% of residents of older adult care homes in England eligible to have their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine had received the jab by February 14, as well as 69.0% of eligible staff in older adult care homes.

Care home residents and staff are classed as eligible for the vaccine if they have not had Covid-19 in the previous 28 days.

NHS England said the number of eligible residents includes a small number of residents at care homes currently undergoing an outbreak and which cannot be visited, who did not receive the vaccine for valid medical reasons, and those for whom consent had not been provided.

Around 88% of patient-facing NHS Trust health care workers are likely to have had their first dose of vaccine by February 14, NHS England added.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The vaccine rollout continues to gather pace.(PA)The vaccine rollout continues to gather pace.(PA)

Coronavirus cases and Variant update

The Prime Minister will likely update the nation on coronavirus cases across the country and provide detail on new variants of coronavirus.

The update will come after people in part of Essex are being urged to take a coronavirus test when offered, after the South African variant was discovered there.

It is the latest deployment of surge testing in England in a bid to control and suppress the potential spread of virus variants.

Targeted testing will be offered to residents in the CM13 postcode in Brentwood after one case of the South African variant was detected.

People are “strongly encouraged” to accept the offer of a test, whether or not they have symptoms of the virus.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said: “Working in partnership with the local authority, additional testing and genomic sequencing is being deployed to the CM13 postcode in Brentwood, Essex, where a single case of the Covid-19 variant first identified in South Africa has been found.”

Surge testing has now been deployed in specific locations across numerous areas in England.

Sequencing of positive PCR tests – swabs that are processed in a laboratory – can take around two weeks, according to Public Health England.

The DHSC has said data on surge testing will be provided “in due course”.

Stay at home

Despite plans to ease lockdown restrictions, Number 10 insisted that the “stay at home” message would remain in place despite the relaxation of some restrictions.

The measures form the first of four steps in the road map which the Prime Minister is set to outline in a statement to the Commons on Monday afternoon.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The stay at home message is expected to stay in place. (PA)The stay at home message is expected to stay in place. (PA)

He has stressed the need to relax restrictions in a “cautious” manner, saying that the Government would make decisions based on the latest data at every step.

Ahead of his Commons address, Mr Johnson said: “Today I’ll be setting out a road map to bring us out of lockdown cautiously.

“Our priority has always been getting children back into school which we know is crucial for their education as well as their mental and physical wellbeing, and we will also be prioritising ways for people to reunite with loved ones safely.

“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.”