Further easing of COVID restrictions confirmed for 17 May


Last week, the government confirmed that the Roadmap is on track and planned Step 3 easements will go ahead on 17 May.

The data shows that the government’s “four tests” for easing restrictions have been met. Infection rates are at their lowest level since September, while hospital admissions and patients in hospital continue to decrease - with levels now similar to July last year.

Hospital admissions and cases of severe illness also remain in line with modelling provided by scientific experts for the Roadmap.

From the 17 May, the majority of the indoor and remaining outdoor economy can reopen, and gathering limits will increase indoors and outdoors. Guidance for close contact between friends and family will be updated, with people exercising their own personal judgement in line with the risks.

The Stay in the UK restriction will be lifted, and people will be able to travel to green list countries, if they permit inbound travel.

Indian variant

However, the Prime Minister has continued to urge caution. Last week, he announced that the government will accelerate remaining second doses to the over 50s and those who are vulnerable in England so they are eight weeks apart.

He added that it will also prioritise first doses for anyone eligible who has not yet come forward.

The government will proceed with the plan to move to step three of England's roadmap out of lockdown from 17 May but moving to step four in June may be more difficult due to the new Indian variant.

Tests

The aim of the Roadmap is to be cautious but irreversible and unlocking too fast, too soon, risks a resurgence of the virus, says the government.

The assessment to move to Step 3 was based on four tests:

  1. the vaccine deployment programme continues successfully

  2. evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated

  3. infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS

  4. the assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.

As set out in the Roadmap, four weeks is needed to fully understand the impact of each step. The Government also committed to provide a further weeks’ notice to businesses.

The successful vaccination rollout continues, with over 35 million people receiving at least one dose, and nearly 18 million receiving both doses. One quarter of all adults have now received the strongest protection available.

The latest data shows that the estimated reduction in symptomatic disease is 60% and hospitalisations 80% for one dose of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine for people aged 80 and over. Data published by PHE last week estimates that for the over 80s, two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine reduces the risk of hospitalisation by 93%.

The full guidance on what you can and can’t do from 17 May is available in the Guidance section. Prime Minister's Office, 10 Downing Street May 2021

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