Ten rules that change today as lockdown restrictions eased


England’s roadmap out of lockdown kicks in today bringing with it a whole host if changes.

Boris Johnson’s four-stage plan begins on Monday, March 8 more than two months after the country was plunged into lockdown again.

The second part is then expected to follow at the end of the month on March 29.

The easing of restrictions mean people will be allowed to have a coffee or picnic with one person from another household in the park.

And care home residents will have more rights to be visited by their loved ones.

But – despite this – the rules are not being relaxed all at once and though things will seem more normal there are several restrictions that will still be in place throughout March.



Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown starts today

Experts will be keeping a close eye on the data to check there is no spike in cases.

If the coronavirus numbers are low enough, England will get one-week’s notice of more easing to come.

That will include shops reopening in April, as well as pubs serving outdoors; pubs and restaurants reopening in May and everything being lifted in June, reports The Mirror.

Here’s everything you can and can’t do in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire from March 8.

You can send your child to school



Schools in England will reopen from March 8, with primary schools expected to open all at once.

Secondary school reopenings will be staggered over the week because their pupils must first take a rapid test at school before they can start in-person lessons.

Secondary pupils – who will also be asked to wear masks in class – will be given ‘lateral flow’ test kits to test themselves from Covid at home twice per week.

School sports can resume as long as they are for education or part of wraparound care, like after-school clubs.

University students can also return if they need practical work or specialist facilities to complete their courses. However, other university students should remain at home and their status will be reviewed over Easter.

You can take your child to wraparound childcare

Wraparound childcare, including childminders, can restart from March 8 for all children in certain circumstances.

The valid reasons for sending your child to childcare are working, seeking work, attending education, seeking medical care or attending a support group.

Vulnerable children can attend childcare regardless of the reason.

You can have a coffee or picnic with one friend in the park


Picnics are back on the agenda

‘Recreation’ will be added to the list of valid reasons you are allowed to leave your home. This means you can sit down in any public open space, including to eat and drink. Previously you could only exercise.

You are allowed to take part in this recreation with your own household, support or childcare bubble, or with one person from another household.

If you’re meeting someone from another household there must only be two of you in total.

Children under five years old and two carers for a person with a disability are not counted in this limit on gatherings. But older children are not exempt, so cannot “tag along”.

When you do meet someone from another household you should not hug. “Social distancing and other safe behaviours should be followed,” the government says.

You can visit a loved one in a care home


Care worker helps elderly woman
You can visit residents in care homes

Care home visiting rules are changing to allow each resident to nominate one named, consistent visitor.

Before each trip the visitor must take a rapid Covid test and wear PPE. However, they can hold hands with their loved one.

Previously, care home visits were allowed but only under very limited circumstances including screens or outdoor settings.

If you are not your loved one’s “named visitor”, you can still visit them but only under these more limited arrangements.

Residents with the highest needs will also be able to nominate an “essential care giver” who can have the same access and PPE arrangements as care home staff. This is where “close contact personal care from a loved one is critical for the resident’s immediate health and wellbeing.”



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You can campaign for the local elections

Campaigners are allowed to start delivering leaflets and knocking on doors from March 8 for the May local elections.

Only individual campaigners may go door-to-door and while they can speak with voters on the doorstep, this should be socially distanced.

Campaigners should not go inside people’s homes.

You can’t leave home, except for limited reasons

The national ‘stay at home’ order is still in place until March 29 in England.

You can only leave your home for limited exemptions like work, education, food or medicine shopping, exercise or helping a vulnerable person.

The big difference is that outdoor “recreation” has been added to the list of exemptions.

You can’t go on holiday or stay overnight

Self-contained holidays in England with your own household will not be allowed until April 12 at the earliest – Step 2.

Holidays with multiple households, or abroad, will not be allowed until May 17 at the earliest – Step 3.

Until May 17 at the earliest, you also cannot travel to stay overnight with friends and family who aren’t in your bubble.

Even if someone is in your support bubble, you are advised to “stay local” and not travel long distances. However, this is guidance, not the law, and you cannot be fined for travelling within England if you have a reasonable excuse.

You can’t leave the country without a ‘valid reason’

Ministers first announced in January that you would need a “valid reason” to leave the country.

This was already true, given you need a reasonable excuse to leave your home, but it was not well-policed.

The roadmap said this would finally become a legal requirement from March 8.

You can’t have a picnic with five friends at once

From March 29, people will be allowed to gather outdoors in groups of up to six people or two households, whichever is larger.

However, this new ‘Rule of Six’ not come into effect yet. For now, gatherings or multiple households are limited to just two people in total, in an outdoor public space. The two of you may have a picnic, but not invite other people to join.

You can’t go to the pub

Pub beer gardens and non-essential shops will only open from April 12 at the earliest, with indoor areas of pubs, restaurants and cafes opening from May 17 at the earliest.

Takeaway pints will be allowed to resume but only from April 12, when beer gardens can reopen anyway.

Groups of up to two households or six people will be allowed in beer gardens from April 12 at the earliest.

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