Road Map To Easing Lockdown Three Restrictions

The Government announced on Monday 22 February 2021 their road map to easing lockdown restrictions. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have each developed their own road map to easing lockdown restrictions.

The Road Map To Easing Lockdown Restrictions


Updated guidance is released regularly and I will update this page as more details are announced.

This page was firstly published on 22 February 2021 and the last update was 30 July 2021.

The road map sets out a cautious approach to easing lockdown restrictions in a safe and measured way. The Road Map to easing lockdown restrictions in England has 4 steps, step one has two parts and it is intended that part one will begin on 8 March 2021 with part two hopefully beginning on 29 March 2021. There will be a five-week gap between each step to allow scientists to assess the impact the easing of restrictions have had on cases, hospital admissions and deaths.

The anticipated commencement date for each of the four steps are expected to be:

  • Step One – part A went ahead on 8 March and part B on 29 March 2021
  • Step Two – went ahead on 12 April 2021
  • Step Three – went ahead on 17 May 2021
  • Step Four – was due to go ahead on 21 June 2021 but was delayed until 19 July 2021

It will take 4 weeks for the data to reflect the relaxation in restrictions of each step and the Government want to give the country 1 weeks’ notice of all changes. Therefore, there is a gap of at least 5 weeks between each step.

Review Process

There are six sets of data that the Government will consider before deciding whether England will move up or down a step. The six tests are:

  1. Number of cases,
  2. Number of cases in the over 60’s,
  3. Overall how much cases are increasing or decreasing,
  4. How much pressure there is on the NHS i.e. bed occupancy by Coronavirus patients,
  5. Number of people who have been vaccinated and that targets continue to be achieved, and
  6. Ricks are not increased by any new variants.

Data published by Public Health England regarding hospital bed occupancy can be found towards the end of this post.

If cases continue on a downward trend, there are no new variants, hospital admissions continue to reduce and the vaccine rollout meets its targets then the next step will be initiated. However, if any or all of the data move in the wrong direction then the introduction of the next step will be paused, or in extreme cases could mean we will revert to a previous step of the road map. So, the dates are for guidance only and are not guaranteed, they do however give you a date to aim and plan for.

A large focus is on the number of people who are vaccinated, and the UK continuing to hit its targets.

It is hoped that by 15 April 2021 almost, if not all, over-50s and younger vulnerable groups would have received at least their first dose of a vaccine and that all adults will have been offered a vaccine by the end of July 2021.

As more adults are vaccinated more restrictions will be able to be lifted.

Self Isolation
Throughout the four steps of the road map, it is vital that those who are showing symptoms, however mild, or live in a household where someone has symptoms, should not leave their house and must not go to work. Those people should self-isolate at home and the household quarantine rules continue to apply. As the Government increases the availability and speed of swab testing individuals will be able to confirm more quickly whether they have COVID-19 or not. This will reduce the period of self-isolation for those whose tests return a negative result.

Individuals who are considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable will be asked to shield until at least the end of March 2021.

Although the Prime Minister was clear that the Country would not be returning to the Tier system, he did say that they may need to impose local restrictions to prevent the spread of new variants.

Step One

8 March 2021 – completed 29 March 2021 – completed
  • Schools will reopen to all pupils for face-to-face learning with twice weekly testing of pupils and staff. School operated outdoor clubs will also restart. Secondary school children will wear masks in classes. University students with a practical class element will return but other students will continue learning remotely until at least the Easter holiday.
  • Care home residents will be allowed one regular named visitor but the visitor must wear PPE and have had a negative test.
  • Two people will be able to meet in a public outdoor space for a chat, a coffee or a picnic.
  • Sport such as golf, tennis and grass roots football, will recommence. Open air swimming pools and lidos will reopen.
  • Groups of 6 will be able to meet in an outdoor setting including private gardens. Two families will also be able to meet in an outdoor setting even the number of people exceeds the rule of 6.
  • The instruction to stay at home rule will be lifted but people will be asked to stay local and overnight stays will still be banned.
  • People who can work from home should continue to do so and travel should be kept to a minimum.

Step Two

12 April 2021 – completed

The Government announced on Monday 5 April 2021 that the following restrictions will be lifted on Monday 12 April:

  • Outdoor settings: the group of 6 or 2 household rule will continue to apply to outdoor settings.
  • Indoor settings: will continue to be limited to people of the same household.
  • Non-essential retail will reopen.
  • Personal care including hair dressers and nail salons will reopen. People visiting these premises must go alone or with members of their own household.
  • Public buildings including libraries, community centers and museums will reopen.
  • Indoor leisure such as gyms, spas and swimming pools can reopen but people will only be able to go on their own or with their own household.
  • Outdoor attractions such as zoos and theme parks will reopen.
  • Pubs, restaurants and cafes will begin to open for outdoor service. There will be no curfew and no requirement to have a substantial meal.
  • Campsites and holiday lets will reopen where indoor facilities are not shared with another household groups. Foreign holidays will still be banned.
  • Driving lessons will resume.
  • Weddings will increase from 6 to 15 people and funerals will remain at 30 people.

Step Three

17 May 2021 – completed

The Government have now announced that the step three restrictions will be lifted as planned on Monday 17 May 2021.

This means the following restrictions will be lifted:

  • Outdoor settings: restrictions on the group of 6 or 2 households will be increased to a group of 30.
  • Indoor settings: families and friends will be able meet indoors subject to the rule of 6, larger groups are permitted so long as they are all from a maximum of 2 households.
  • Pubs, restaurants and cafes will begin to open for indoor service.
  • Cinemas, children’s play areas, hotels, hostels, B&Bs, theatres, concert halls and cinemas will reopen.
  • Outdoor performances and sporting events will reopen; attendance will be capped at 4,000 or 50% of capacity whichever is the lowest. For the largest outdoor seated venues such as football stadiums like Wembley, up to 10,000 people will be able to attend – or they will be able to open at a quarter full, whichever is lower.
  • Indoor performances and sporting events with a capacity of 1,000 or half full (whichever smaller) will be allowed.
  • UK holidays will be permitted for groups of 6 or for a larger group where there are only 2 households in total.
  • Up to 30 people will be able to attend life events such as weddings, christenings, bar mitzvahs and funerals.

Step Four

19 July 2021 – completed

The Government announced on 12 July 2021 that the remaining restrictions would be lifted on 19 July 2021.

The remaining restrictions that will be lifted as move into step four are:

  • Removal of instruction to work from home, but return to workplaces is expected to be gradual over the summer
  • Limits on social groups will be lifted for both indoor and outdoor settings.
  • Social distancing and face covering requirements will be removed but sensible precautions are encouraged
  • Remaining sectors of the economy who are still closed, such as nightclubs, will be allowed to open.
  • Restrictions on large performances and sporting events will be lifted.
  • Restrictions on attendance at life events such as weddings, christenings, bar mitzvahs and funerals will be lifted.

Social Distancing
The rules relating to social distancing (2m, or 1m with additional mitigation measures) will be lifted in the vast majority of settings, although they will remain in limited circumstances such as at ports of entry (to manage the risk of variants of concern being transmitted) and as necessary for infection prevention and control in health and care settings.

Face Masks
The legal requirement to wear a face covering will be lifted for all settings where it currently applies. However, the Government will publish guidance highlighting that face coverings do help to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission and advising people to wear them where they come into contact with people they don’t normally meet in enclosed and crowded spaces.

Test and Trace
The NHS Test and Trace programme will remain. The Government will continue to make Covid-19 tests available for individuals who have Covid-19 symptoms and the regular use of rapid tests for those without symptoms will continue to be encouraged.

Self-isolation following a positive test result, or as a close contact instructed by NHS Test and Trace, will remain a legal requirement. Although the Government has confirmed that it intends to remove the requirement to self-isolate as a close contact for individuals who are fully vaccinated or under 18. It is expected that this will come into effect in late summer and further details will be published in due course.

Top tip

The approach marks a clear shift away from Government-imposed rules and restrictions towards individual and business choice and responsibility. This means you can choose to maintain your current workplace safety measures, including any social distancing and the wearing of face coverings, or adjust your approach if your risk assessment concludes that this is appropriate.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Set To Wind Down Despite Step Four Delay
The Government have announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will continue on its current schedule despite the delay to the lifting of the final set of restrictions.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is due to run until 30 September but will begin the process of winding down from 1 July.

When the tapering of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme begins in July, employees on furlough will still receive 80% of their wages but employers will gradually pay more. Between now and 30 June, the government will pay 80% of wages for hours not worked, up to £2,500 a month with Employers paying national insurance and employer pension contributions. From 1 July the government will only pay 70%, with employers expected to pay the remaining 10%, plus national insurance and employer pension contributions. In August and September, the government will pay 60% and employers will have to pay 20%.

Read more about the Extended Furlough Scheme.

Policy Reviews

There are four areas that the Government do not currently have enough information to make an informed decision, these areas will be reviewed over the next few months. The four policy reviews will assess:

  1. How long we need to maintain social distancing rules, wear face masks and continue to work from home (should be concluded before we reach Step 4),
  2. Foreign travel rules including hotel quarantine, testing and bans on travel from Countries on the Red List. The report will be completed by 12 April so international travel could resume in Step 3. Read more about the UK Travel Quarantine Rules.
  3. Whether Covid Certificates will help venues open safely (the Government hope to set out the conclusions before we reach Step 4 but this is a complex area, poses moral and ethical questions as well as practical ones, and won’t be decided quickly, and
  4. How major events can operate safely without social distancing. Pilots using testing and other measures to run events with larger crowd sizes and reduced social distancing will start in April and this could pave the way for allowing things like music festivals over the summer – if the results are successful.

Support Package

The Chancellor announced in the Budget on 3 March 2021 that the furlough scheme would continue through to 30 September 2021.

Hospital Activity Week by Week in England

During the first lockdown the number of hospital beds occupied by Coronavirus patients reached its peak on 12 April 2020 with 18,974 beds. At the beginning of the second national lockdown the number of beds occupied by confirmed Coronavirus patients was 11,037 and of those 997 mechanical ventilator beds were occupied by Coronavirus patients. At the time the third lockdown started the number of beds occupied by confirmed Coronavirus patients had risen to 26,626 and of those 2,310 occupied mechanical ventilator beds. That was significantly higher than the peak of the first lockdown and was putting enormous pressure on the NHS!

Date Covid Admissions From Care Homes Covid Admissions From The Community New Covid Cases In Existing Hospital Patients Beds Occupied By Covid Patients Mechanical Ventilator Beds Occupied By Covid Patients Hospital Deaths From Covid
13 October 38 614 727 4,105 441 70
20 October 56 729 881 6,072 560 133
28 October 43 981 1,200 9,070 788 179
4 November 60 1,100 1,342 11,037 997 235
11 November 119 1,300 1,628 12,730 1,081 241
18 November 93 1,264 1,493 14,490 1,242 329
25 November 78 1,079 1,335 14,240 1,300 325
1 December 85 919 1,207 13,507 1,182 273
8 December 105 1,065 1,456 13,629 1,118 292
15 December 105 1,296 1,644 15,031 1,159 317
22 December 120 1,739 2,114 18,063 1,339 367
29 December 126 2.378 2,782 21,787 1,728 454
5 January 177 3,025 3,582 26,467 2,378 616
12 January 212 3,375 3,970 32,220 3,175 822
19 January 179 3.093 3,569 34,015 3,603 866
26 January 148 2,235 2,611 32,337 3,634 706
2 February 103 1,764 2,043 27,397 3,324 579
9 February 80 1,223 1,439 22,067 2,911 412
16 February 55 1,051 1,218 17,073 2,484 332
23 February 36 795 900 13,511 1,956 219
2 March 40 550 617 10,121 1,556 129
9 March 15 359 433 7,451 1,187 98
16 March 21 306 334 5,664 882 62
23 March 21 249 267 4,245 647 54
30 March 9 193 207 3,283 501 33
6 April 7 155 167 2,588 406 15
13 April 9 114 132 2,057 333 20
20 April 3 83 90 1,649 249 19
27 April 6 115 120 1,310 196 12
4 May 3 61 69 1,093 162 8
11 May 3 68 71 921 126 13
18 May 3 75 84 749 114 5
25 May 3 78 81 765 117 2
1 June 3 105 108 776 123 2
8 June 4 127 136 879 140 7
15 June 4 162 174 1,030 187 11
22 June 4 167 171 1,301 229 7
29 June 3 267 272 1,445 259 12
6 July 7 426 440 1,998 353 16
13 July 17 576 604 2,970 470 35
20 July 11 747 779 3,894 544 41
27 July 8 740 784 5,163 738 49
3 August 11 635 655 5,116 772 48
10 August 10 683 729 5,096 782 54
17 August 21 731 799 5,437 825 75
24 August 10 727 784 5,911 857 86
31 August 14 716 763 6,293 879 82
7 September 21 734 776 6,244 885 103
14 September 21 628 663 6,344 888 95
21 September 23 537 573 5,543 774 74
28 September 15 500 553 5,126 681 65
5 October 26 584 632 5,006 661 61
12 October 25 679 733 5,213 657 35
19 October
26 October

Publication of Records

New admissions and beds occupied are recorded at 8am daily. I’m providing a snapshot of the figures from each Tuesday to show the trajectory. The number of hospital beds occupied is published within 24 hours, the number of new cases from the community, care homes and existing hospital patients takes between 2-3 days to be published.

An initial figure of the number of deaths is published within 2 days but that figure will be updated numerous times over the following few days as post-mortem tests are processed and data from them are validated, so it can take between one and two weeks before a conclusive figure is declared (I keep this figure highlighted until a conclusive figure is declared).

You can see the full figures on the NHS England website.

  • The New Admissions From The Community data shows the number of patients admitted in the previous 24 hours for the first time with COVID-19 plus the number of patients diagnosed in hospital in the previous 24 hours.
  • New Hospital Cases shows the number of existing patients diagnosed in the previous 24 hours.
  • The number of deaths is the deaths that were recorded that day of patients who have died in hospitals in England and either tested positive for COVID-19 or where no positive test result was received for COVID-19, but COVID-19 was mentioned on their death certificate. All deaths are recorded against the date of death rather than the day the deaths were announced.

If you have any questions, please call me on 0114 360 0626 or simply email me at

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Road Map To Easing Lockdown Three Restrictions