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COVID-19: Roadmap out of lockdown

Written by on 5 April 2021

Each UK nation has set out a roadmap out of lockdown with specific dates. Boris Johnson has announced England’s second step out of lockdown will happen from 12 April.

Here are the timetables for lifting COVID-19 restrictions in each UK nation:


There are four steps to easing England’s lockdown.

The prime minister hopes to be able to lift the majority of rules by 21 June, but this is dependent on cases, deaths and hospital admissions continuing to fall so the dates are the earliest any of the stated rules could be lifted.

There will be no regional tier systems – England will be treated as one in the easing of lockdown.

Step one was completed in two parts on 8 and 29 March.

Boris Johnson has confirmed England will progress to the next planned stage of lockdown lifting next Monday as he said the roadmap was on track.

The next steps are as follows:

Young people enjoy a drink in a pub

Step Two – 12 April:

Boris Johnson has confirmed this will take place on 12 April thanks to a successful vaccine programme that is reducing hospital admissions and deaths. No indoor mixing of households will be allowed.

  • Non-essential shops, hairdressers, gyms, nail salons, libraries, and outdoor attractions such as theme parks and zoos will be allowed to reopen
  • Outdoor hospitality can reopen, including pubs and restaurants – with the rule of six or a larger group from two households
  • Customers will not have to buy a substantial meal to have an alcoholic drink and there will be no curfew but people will have to be seated when ordering and eating or drinking
  • Two specified people can visit care home residents
  • Children can attend indoor children’s activities, including sport
  • Parent and child groups of up to 15 people (not counting children aged under five) can restart indoors
  • Self-catering holidays in the UK with your own household will be allowed
  • Funerals of up to 30 people. Weddings and wakes of up to 15 people

Retail graphic tile for Sky News economics tracker

Step three – 17 May:

  • Outdoors, most social contact rules will be lifted, but gatherings of more than 30 will be illegal
  • Indoors, the rule of six or a larger group of up to two households will be allowed
  • Indoor hospitality – pubs, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, museums, galleries, concert halls, children play areas, hotels, B&Bs, indoor exercise classes – will be allowed
  • Advice on social distancing between family and friends, including hugging, will be updated no later than 17 May
  • Large indoor performances and sporting events with a capacity of 1,000 people will be allowed
  • Outdoor large performances and sporting events will have a maximum capacity of 4,000 people or must only be half full, whichever is lower
  • Bigger sports stadiums will be allowed 10,000 people or can only be a quarter full, whichever is lower
  • Testing will be used to support these openings
  • Weddings, wedding receptions, wakes, funerals and christenings will be allowed with 30 people.

Step four – 21 June:

  • All legal limits on social contact removed
  • Government hopes to reopen nightclubs and lift restrictions on large events such as festivals
  • Testing could be used as a condition of entry
  • Ministers hope to remove restrictions on weddings

Yet to be decided

There are a few rules and issues that have not yet been agreed and will be subject to review during the easing of lockdown.

1. The one-metre plus rule, mandatory facemasks and working from home

The government hopes to conclude a review of this before step four.

2. Whether you can use proof of having a COVID-19 vaccine to enter mass events

The government hopes to set out the conclusion of a review prior to step four on whether vaccine or test certificates could be used to reopen the rest of the economy.

3. International travel

The government has said this will not resume before 17 May following a review that will be completed by 12 April.

4. Major events

The government has said testing could be used to ensure people can safely attend large events.

Travel quarantine graphic


The stay-at-home rule has already been replaced with a “stay local” message and Scots are allowed to meet in bigger groups – up to four people from two households can meet outdoors.

For children aged between 12 and 17, outdoor meetings are now limited to four people, but these can be from up to four households.

On Monday 5 April, a phased reopening of non-essential retail began, barbers and salons reopened, along with click-and-collect retail services, garden centres, car dealerships and homeware shops.

More students returned to face-to-face learning, particularly those in college.

The next steps are as follows:

26 April

  • Scotland will come out of lockdown and into a “modified Level 3”
  • Six people from up to three households can meet outside
  • Travel restrictions across the country will end
  • Non-essential shops, libraries, museums, galleries and gyms can reopen
  • Cafes, restaurants and bars will be able to serve people outdoors, in groups of up to six from three different households, until 10pm
  • Alcohol will be allowed and there will be no requirement for food to be served
  • Hospitality venues can reopen until 8pm, but only for food and non-alcoholic drinks

17 May

  • Scotland will move from Level 3 to Level 2
  • Indoor socialising set to be allowed, with four people from two households permitted to gather
  • Rules around outdoor mixing also set to be eased further
  • Pubs will be allowed to reopen indoors
  • Cinemas, amusement arcades and bingo halls will be able to reopen
  • Outdoor contact sport for adults set to return


  • Scotland will move to Level 1 at the start of the month, before dropping to Level 0 before the end of June
  • First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she cannot say when restrictions will be scrapped entirely.


Wales has set out five dates for lifting lockdown.

Four of these have already happened and seen the stay-at-home order lifted, hairdressers reopened and a phased reopening of schools and non-essential retail.

The next step comes on 12 April when:

  • All students return to face-to-face learning
  • All “close contact services” reopen
  • All non-essential retail reopens

Travel quarantine graphic

Northern Ireland

Lockdown restrictions were introduced on 26 December and extended to 1 April by the Stormont Executive, with a review due on 18 March, though a planned easing of measures was announced two days earlier.

Much of the country has already opened up and limit of socialising relaxed.

The next step comes on 12 April when:

  • Stay-at-home order replaced with guidance to “stay local”
  • Up to 10 people from no more than two households can meet in a private garden
  • Click and collect services at all non-essential retail resume
  • Outdoor sports training for sports clubs affiliated with recognised governing bodies will be permitted to resume, with no more than 15 participants in one training group. Indoor club facilities, apart from toilets, will have to remain shut

Decisions on moving between stages will be based on scientific and medical evidence, ministers have said.

All remaining restrictions on social contact could be lifted from 21 June, allowing for larger events to go ahead and nightclubs to reopen.