Boris Johnson this afternoon outlined plans for the gradual easing of lockdown in England.

The Prime Minister outlined a four stage plan saying coronavirus restrictions could finally be lifted by June 21announcing “the end really is in sight”.

Mr Johnson told MPs the approach was “cautious but also irreversible”, with the impact of the vaccination programme replacing the need for lockdown measures.

He said a “wretched year would give way to a spring and a summer that will be very different and incomparably better”.

Pupils across England will return to the classroom from March 8 with face masks and regular testing required in secondary schools.

Socialising in parks and public spaces with one other person will also be allowed from this date

Echo: Boris Johnson outlined plans this afternoon. (PA)Boris Johnson outlined plans this afternoon. (PA)

When will things reopen in England?

A further easing of restrictions will take place on March 29 when the school Easter holidays begin – with larger groups of up to six people or two households allowed to gather in parks and gardens.

Other measures in the road map set out by the Prime Minister include:

  • From April 12 at the earliest: shops, hairdressers, nail salons, libraries, outdoor attractions and outdoor hospitality venues such as beer gardens will reopen.
  • From May 17 at the earliest, two households or groups of up to six people will be allowed to mix indoors and crowds of up to 10,000 in the largest venues will be allowed at performances and sporting events.
  • Friends and family could finally be allowed to hug each other again, with the road map promising that advice on social distancing will be updated “as soon as possible” and no later than step three.
  • From June 21 at the earliest, all remaining restrictions on social contact could be lifted, larger events can go ahead and nightclubs could finally reopen.

Making a statement in the Commons, the Prime Minister acknowledged “the threat remains substantial” with the numbers in hospital only now beginning to fall below the peak of the first wave in April.

When can I go on holiday?

Boris Johnson dropped further hints over his hopes of summer holidays overseas in response to calls from Conservative former prime minister Theresa May to assist the aviation sector.

Mrs May welcomed the Prime Minister’s statement to the Commons, including the return of schools, adding in the Commons: “He says there’s going to be a taskforce report by April 12 so people can plan for the summer – that won’t allow people to plan.

“At every stage the Government has taken weeks from these reports to actually provide certainty to the industry. The industry needs three months’ preparation from the point of certainty.”

She asked Mr Johnson to “look again” at the timetable and bring it forward to “open up our international air travel and make sure that Britain is open for business”.

Mr Johnson said the Government will continue to support the sector, adding: “I believe setting a deadline of April 12 for the report of the reconstituted travel taskforce will give people time to make their plans for the summer.

“If things go well, if we can meet these not before dates, then I do believe there is every chance of an aviation recovery later on this year.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s road map for easing coronavirus restrictions states that hotels can reopen and foreign travel will be permitted from May 17 at the earliest.

Echo: Boris Johnson was asked about international travel. (PA)Boris Johnson was asked about international travel. (PA)

Travel sector welcomes prospect of summer holidays

The travel industry has expressed relief at the prospect of people in England being allowed to take summer holidays.

The Government’s Global Travel Taskforce will reconvene to issue a report by April 12 recommending how international trips can be safely facilitated.

This is also the earliest date that overnight stays in self-contained accommodation that do not require the shared use of facilities will be allowed.

Paul Charles, chief executive of travel consultancy The PC Agency, who co-founded the Save Our Summer campaign, said the announcement was “the news the travel sector really wanted”.

He went on: “I’m sure virtually everyone in the travel sector will be pleased with the greater clarity and a timeframe of May for enabling those who’ve been vaccinated to travel overseas.

“By then, there will be over 16 million people eligible to travel abroad to see family, or for business or leisure, in a safe and responsible way.”

Mr Charles said the 850 firms who backed the Save Our Summer campaign will “welcome the Prime Minister’s boost to confidence”.

He went on: “It means more consumers can be reassured that their 2021 summer trip can take place, or they can get a refund or refix their travel date.

“They can book knowing that this summer will be even safer than last.

“We will need to see the finer details in the future reviews for the sector’s restart but the Prime Minister’s comments are certainly far more positive and realistic than those made by some ministers just two weeks ago.”