Open-air contact is likely to be the first form of lockdown easing after the schools return.
The whole nation is looking forward to the end of our third lockdown in ten months, and with the number of vaccinated people in the UK recently crossing the 10 million mark, there’s a little more optimism on the horizon. And whilst the exact stages by which the lockdown will be eased are still being worked out in government offices, multiple news reports today suggest that outdoor socialising and sport could be the first activities permitted when the first easing measures occur.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has signalled his intent to open schools on March 8 (a date still dependent on the R rate, rate of hospitalisation, and other markers of success in the nation’s fight against coronavirus), and lockdown measures won’t be eased before then. However, today’s reports – from The Times, Mirror, Metro, and others – suggest that the government is considering allowing open-air contact after this stage, which would permit people to join in outdoor sport, and socialise outdoors. Under the current lockdown rules, we can only meet one other person outside our household, and then for exercise only.
Retail and the hospitality industry would follow later on, and again it’s suggested that the government would favour an open-air approach – meaning outdoor markets and outdoor dining would return ahead on their indoor counterparts. It is, of course, important to stress that these plans have all been described as tentative, and nothing will be confirmed until Boris Johnson lays out the government’s approach, which expected to be the last week of February.
It’s certainly something to hang our hopes on, but naturally, it depends on the continued success of the vaccination programme and falling Covid cases. So, I guess we keep doing what we’re doing and hopefully park picnics and tennis matches will be back before long!