Prime Minister Boris Johnson has today made an announcement on the road map and steps the country will take in coming out of the third national lockdown. According to his announcement, the steps taken will depend on four factors: vaccine deployment, reduction in hospitalisations and deaths, infection rates and new variants. But, he said, the “end is in sight”.

The first step will begin on 8 March as all schools and higher education settings will resume face-to-face learning. On 29 March, outdoor gatherings of six people will be permitted and outdoor sports can resume.

If infection and hospitalisation rates permit, the 12th of April could see the re-opening and resumption of non-essential retail, personal beauty, outdoor venues, gyms and pools, holiday lettings and weddings/funerals. However, there will still be limits around numbers and households involved.

May could see indoor mixing allowed between six people and the reopening of the hospitality sector. International travel may also resume and crowds may be allowed to return to professional sporting events. Looking ahead to June, Johnson said, data permitting, all limits on household mixing could be removed and close-contact settings like nightclubs and festivals re-opened.

For many people, the announcement brought some much-needed hope for the future. But others were cautious of getting too excited just yet.

On issues such as the school's reopening on 8 March, people were similarly divided on the government’s decision, with some fearing it may be too much too soon.

The hairdressers potentially reopening on 12th June also proved to be a big talking point.

Meanwhile, for many, the potential reopening of clubs in June was the one bit of good news they’d been waiting to hear for almost a year.

In reaction to Boris Johnson’s statement, Labour leader Keir Starmer agreed with the health basis on which the decisions are being made. But, he highlighted how the roadmap was not accompanied by new economic support for businesses that, for the time being, have to remain closed.

There’s no doubt this pandemic has been a test for all of us. Whatever happens in the future, let’s hope that lockdown 3 is the last lockdown we ever have to live through.

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