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Independent Kidderminster Hospital and Health Concern Caring for the Community in Wyre Forest

COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021 (Summary)

Published 22 February 2021

Mr Johnson's plan for easing restrictions will be split into four separate steps and will see the country treated as a whole, with no return to a tier system.

Step 1

Priority is to ensure that all children and students return safely to face-to-face education in schools and colleges from 8 March . Childcare and children’s supervised activities can also resume where necessary to enable parents to work or engage in similar activities. There will be twice-weekly rapid testing for secondary and college pupils - in addition to regular testing for all teachers - to reduce the chance of the virus spreading in schools. Higher Education students at English universities on practical courses can also return from 8 March. __________ People will be allowed to leave home for recreation and exercise outdoors with their household or support bubble, if they are eligible for one, or with one person from outside their household. Care home residents will also be allowed one regular visitor. From 29 March , when most schools start to break up for the Easter holidays, outdoor gatherings (including in private gardens) of either 6 people (the Rule of 6) or 2 households will also be allowed, making it easier for friends and families to meet outside. Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts, and open-air swimming pools, will also be allowed to reopen, and people will be able to take part in formally organised outdoor sports. _________ The ‘stay at home’ rule will end on 29 March but many restrictions will remain in place. People should continue to work from home where they can and minimise the number of journeys they make where possible, avoiding travel at the busiest times and routes. Travel abroad will continue to be prohibited, other than for a small number of permitted reasons. Holidays abroad will not be allowed, given it will remain important to manage the risk of imported variants and protect the vaccination programme. The government has launched a new taskforce to review global travel which will report on 12 April. ______________________________________________________________________ ELECTIONS: The roadmap explains that Covid-secure council, mayoral and police and crime commissioner elections will go ahead on May 6 in England and Wales. The Government plans to amend the coronavirus regulations 'to enable a broader range of campaign-related activity from March 8, but it is essential that this still takes place in a Covid-Secure way, in line with guidance and the law'. ______________________________________________________________________

Step Two:

'No earlier than' April 12

The Government's roadmap explains that Step Two will take place no earlier than April 12, around four weeks after Step One has been implemented. Step Two will reopen some sections of our indoor economy and more outdoor settings, restoring jobs and livelihoods and enabling people to access some activities and services. However, social contact rules in England will not change further at this point and outdoor gatherings must still be limited to six people or two households as in Step One. If Step Two is delayed, 'subsequent steps will need to be pushed back in order to maintain the necessary five week period to assess the impact of each step and provide notice'. HAIRDRESSERS AND NON-ESSENTIAL HOSPITALITY: Non-essential retail will reopen no earlier than April 12 as well as personal care businesses like hairdressers, barbers and nail salons. Public buildings like libraries, museums and art galleries will be allowed to welcome back customers. Meanwhile, hospitality venues and outdoor attractions like theme parks will be given the green light to reopen in some form. However, there will still be rules on household mixing: Essentially any activity which involves being indoors will be restricted to members of the same household. GYMS AND LEISURE: Gyms and swimming pools will also reopen from at the earliest April 12 but only on the basis that people go on their own or with members of their own household. PUBS AND RESTAURANTS: Pubs and restaurants will be able to reopen from April 12 at the earliest, but at this point they will only be able to have customers outdoors. Any visits to a pub or restaurant will have to comply with the rules on social contact, so no more than two households or the rule of six. The Government will not be bringing back the old requirement for people to order a substantial meal with alcohol while the old 10pm curfew will also be ditched. All customers at hospitality venues will have to be seated when they order food or drink, with ordering at the bar prohibited. CAMPSITES AND HOLIDAYS: Campsites and holiday lets where indoor facilities are not shared with other households can also reopen but trips must be restricted to a single household. WEDDINGS AND FUNERALS: Funerals will be allowed to continue with up to 30 people, while the rules on wedding receptions will be eased to allow the number of guests to increase from six to 15. LARGE CROWDS: The Government will also launch pilot programmes in April to see how events with large crowds and reduced social distancing could work. INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL: A new task force looking at how to increase inbound and outbound international travel, while also protecting against importing coronavirus variants, will report on April 12. The expectation is that international travel will not resume until May 17 at the very earliest.