When will lockdown end in the UK?
THE peak of the second coronavirus wave has officially passed but there is no word yet when the restrictions will end.
Boris Johnson has announced that Covid lockdown measures will remain in place until at least March 8.
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When will lockdown end in the UK?
On January 27, the PM announced that lockdown restrictions could start to lift – but not completely – from Monday, March 8.
He told the House of Commons that "by the 8th of March we hope it will be safe to begin the reopening of schools… with other economic and social restrictions being removed thereafter as and when the data permits."
Pressure has been piling upon Boris Johnson from his backbenches to outline a roadmap out of our third lockdown.
The Covid Recovery Group – made up of lockdown-sceptic Conservative MPs – had urged the Government to begin unlocking from early March, when vaccinations for the most vulnerable are hoped to have taken effect.
However their demand comes amid an announcement from the Government that coronavirus deaths have passed 100,000.
Mr Johnson said: "We will be in a better position to chart a course out of lockdown, without risking a further surge that will overwhelm the NHS.
"When parliament returns from recess in the week commencing the 22nd of February, we intend to set out the results of that review, and publish our plan for taking the country out of lockdown.
"That plan will depend on the success of the vaccination programme, the capacity of the NHS, and on deaths falling… as more people are inoculated.”
Chief Medical Officer Prof Chris Whitty has said: "Vaccines give clear hope for the future, but for now we must all stay home, protect the NHS and save lives."
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said on February 4 the UK is "getting safer every day" because of the rollout of coronavirus jabs.
Mr Zahawi hailed the success of the UK's vaccination programme, telling the Commons: "Our nation is getting safer every day."
"I am pleased to inform the House that we have now vaccinated almost nine in 10 over-80s in the UK, almost nine in 10 over-75s, and over half of people in their 70s," he said.
Mr Johnson told politicians: "I know everyone yearns to know how much longer we must endure these restrictions, with all their consequences for jobs, livelihoods and… our children.
“We will not persist for a day longer than is necessary, but nor can we relax too soon.
“If we do, we run the risk of our NHS coming under greater pressure, compelling us to reimpose every restriction and sustain them for longer."
Mainland Scotland and some islands are in lockdown with guidance to stay at home, except for essential purposes.
These restrictions will remain in place until at least the end of February.
The youngest pupils are likely to return to school full-time from February 22.
Wales is in a national lockdown lockdown at alert level four.
The measures are reviewed every three weeks and currently the lockdown is expected to last at least until February 19.
Children aged three to seven will return to school on Februry 22.
Northern Ireland's lockdown began on December 26.
Its current stay-at-home regulations were recently extended, and are in place until March 5, 2021, because of a spike in NI's death toll.
The restrictions will be reviewed on February 18, 2021.
Schools will remain closed until at least March 8.
When is the next lockdown review?
In Scotland, current lockdown measures will be kept under consideration but will be in place at least until the end of February. At the end of the month, they will be reviewed.
The First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, said the lockdown would continue at least until February 19, when the measures will be reviewed.
Northern Ireland's lockdown will be reviewed in mid-February, with First Minister Arelene Foster urging people to work together and follow public health measures to “overcome this dreadful virus”.
In England, the current lockdown laws end on March 31.
In an update on England's situation on January 27, Mr Johnson said the "overall picture should be clearer by mid-February".
"In the week commencing the 22nd of February, we intend to set out the results of that review, and publish our plan for taking the country out of lockdown," he added.
How will lockdown end in the UK?
The number of coronavirus infections and deaths must drop substantially before the UK's lockdown restrictions can be eased.
As far as experts and government officials are concerned, measures can be eased once the roll-out of the massive vaccination effort has hit targets.
The PM previously said that when the four priority groups have been inoculated by mid-February, "we'll look then at how we're doing".
Mr Johnson explained that emerging from lockdown will be “gradual” as legislation allows it to continue until March 31.
The earliest that England's schools will reopen is from Monday March 8, the PM said.
He told the House of Commons on January 27: “The first sign of normality should be pupils going back to their classrooms.
“I know how parents and teachers need as much certainty as possible, including two weeks’ notice of the return of face-to-face teaching.
“So I must inform the House that it will not be possible to reopen schools immediately after the February half-term."
He told MPs earlier in January: “As was the case last spring, our emergence from the lockdown cocoon will not be a big bang but a gradual unwrapping.
“That is why the legislation… runs until 31 March.
"Not because we expect the full national lockdown to continue until then.
"But to allow a steady, controlled and evidence-led move down through the tiers on a regional basis – carefully, brick by brick, as it were, breaking free of our confinement but without risking the hard won gains that our protections have given us.”
Linda Magistris, founder of the Good Grief Trust, warned of the "tsunami of grief and mental health issues this year and next year" over the impact of the ongoing pandemic.
Will the Tier system return?
Once lockdown is eventually lifted, under the government's plans to ease restrictions the Tiers system will return, Dominic Raab has confirmed.
Re-introducing this system will help the UK gradually return to normal, while protecting the health service, and its overworked frontline staff.
However Mr Johnson has hinted the tier system may not return.
He said on February 1 it may be more appropriate to ease measures on a national basis "this time around", rather than locally as had been the plan, due to the way Covid-19 is currently "behaving".
Mr Johnson told reporters in Batley, West Yorkshire: "It may be that a national approach, going down the tiers in a national way, might be better this time round, given that the disease is behaving much more nationally."
Whether the UK can exit lockdown is “highly dependent” on two things; how many people accept their offer of a jab, and whether the vaccine can actually reduce the spread of the virus.
How many national lockdowns have there been in the UK?
The UK is currently under its third lockdown.
The first lockdown started on March 23, 2020, and restrictions lasted into July.
The second UK lockdown was announced on October 31, despite the Prime Minister vowing to do "everything in his power" to avoid the measures.
The measures came into force on Thursday, November 5, and ended on December 2.
On January 4, 2021, the third national lockdown was confirmed.
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