The Prime Minister has today announced our plan to lift restrictions and return to normal life in a clear and measured way. This enables families, schools and businesses to plan and begin to build our recovery from the impact of the pandemic, and is possible due to the success of our research and vaccination programmes, and the hard work of millions of people across the UK who have worked to help reduce the spread of covid.
The impact on education, especially for the most disadvantaged students, has been too great, and I am delighted that students are being prioritised and all schools will be able to return to face to face learning from 8 March, the first of the restrictions to lift. Phase one will also see, from 29 March, outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households allowed, alongside outdoor sports, including football, golf and tennis. Step 2, which will begin no earlier than 12 April, will see shops, hairdressers, gyms and outdoor hospitality, zoos and theme parks reopening.
At each stage the Government will review the progress of the vaccination programme, its impact on hospitalisations and deaths from Covid, the overall impact on the NHS and the impact of any new variants which may emerge. Restrictions will be lifted as the data shows it is safe to do so, with the aim that all restrictions will be lifted from 21 June.
The government is also launching a series of reviews to explore further ways of easing limits. These will look: at whether having a vaccine or a negative test result can reduce restrictions on social contact; the impact of testing and social distancing on events; how to support the travel sector, and lastly a review social distancing measures face coverings and working from home. These reviews will support the roadmap and ensure sectors affected by the pandemic such as events, travel and aviation can resume safely as soon as possible, and allow employers to begin to plan for the return to on site working. Full details of the roadmap are available here.
I welcome the clear vision, commitment to a steady and irreversible lifting of restrictions, the ongoing support for businesses while restrictions continue, and the added certainty and hope to many that this roadmap will bring. I will continue to work closely with schools, businesses and all those who continue to be affected by the pandemic and monitor the Government reviews closely, especially the review into the travel sector, which I hope to see press for internationally agreed safety standards to support and reopen our aviation sector and the thousands of jobs and businesses which rely upon it.
The long term plan outlined today lays the foundation on which we can all plan and build a strong recovery, and I am delighted that this marks the beginning of the end of covid restrictions in the UK.