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COVID-19: First lockdown restrictions lifted in England today

Written by on 8 March 2021

The first step in easing England’s third national lockdown begins today as part of the plan to get back to normal life.

Boris Johnson set out the dates for a four-step roadmap to easing the lockdown on 22 February – with the caveat that each step will be determined by COVID-19 data.

The first step is split into two, with the first restrictions eased today followed by further changes on 29 March.

Here are the measures being relaxed today:

• All schools and colleges in England will start reopening

• Secondary aged pupils (year seven and above) can return full-time after getting their first negative test at school

• Childcare and children’s supervised activities, such as breakfast and after-school clubs, can resume to enable parents to work

• University students on practical courses can return

• One person can meet another person from a different household outside for recreation, not just exercise

• Every care home resident in England can nominate a single named visitor who can regularly visit

Will there still be some restrictions for pupils, staff and parents?

• Secondary school pupils and all staff will have to wear face masks in classrooms where social distancing cannot be maintained

• Secondary school and college students will have to take lateral flow tests twice a week, at school for the first three tests then at home

• Primary and secondary school staff will also have to take tests twice a week at home

• All the home tests will be provided by their schools, with kits already sent to schools by the NHS

Schools in England are reopening on Monday Image: Students wait for COVID tests at Harris Academy Beckenham, southeast London

• The government has said two rapid lateral flow tests per week will be given for free to all households with primary and secondary school pupils and college students, as well as childcare and support bubbles

• These people can get tests through their employer if they’re offering them; at a local rapid test site; by collecting a home test kit from a test site; or ordering a kit online

• Anyone aged 18 or over can collect kits from test sites, with a maximum of two kits containing seven tests each allowed

• They will all have to report their result to NHS Test and Trace as soon as the test is completed, online or by phone

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‘Nothing guaranteed’ on lockdown easing

What happens if a pupil, staff or household/support bubble member tests positive or has symptoms?

• The government has said they should immediately go home if they are at school, and self-isolate for 10 days

• They should also book a PCR test to confirm the result

• This is also the case if they test positive at home

• If a member of a household/support bubble has symptoms or tests positive everyone in that household/bubble should self-isolate for 10 days

Will entire classes have to self-isolate if one person has symptoms?

• The government says staff and pupils who have been in close contact with a symptomatic person do not need to self-isolate unless that person then tests positive or they develop symptoms themselves

• They might also be requested to by NHS Test and Trace or Public Health England

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Families of schoolchildren to get rapid tests

What restrictions are being lifted on 29 March?

If the data allows it, further restrictions will be lifted on 29 March as the second stage of part one of lifting England’s lockdown. On this date:

• Up to six people from different households or a larger group from two households can meet outside, including in private gardens

• Outdoor sports facilities can reopen and organised outdoor sports can take place for children and adults

• The government will drop the “Stay at Home” message and will instead encourage people to stay local wherever they can