Leisure businesses may not return to ‘broadly normal’ until July under a roadmap out of lockdown.
The blueprint being discussed by ministers and industry leaders would allow restrictions to be eased only at four-weekly intervals.
The gradual approach means traders will have to wait until at least Easter – early April – for a limited restart. This is likely to include the reopening of holiday lets and larger hotels, with dining rooms still closed. Sports such as golf and tennis could resume.
Pubs, bars and restaurants will have to wait until early May under the plans, with a maximum of two households allowed to sit together indoors and the rule of six applying outside. The next stage, in early June, would see the rules for pubs and restaurants relaxed with the rule of six extended indoors.
The gradual approach means traders will have to wait until at least Easter – early April – for a limited restart
The hospitality and domestic holiday industries could be allowed to return to normal in July – with social distancing.
Ministers will not make a final decision on the timetable until this weekend when they are presented with the latest data on the spread of the virus. Boris Johnson will unveil the plan on Monday.
But the blueprint is the most detailed outline of the Government’s thinking so far. It appears to confirm that – contrary to the demands of some Tory MPs – the Prime Minister is determined to be cautious, with plenty of ‘headroom’ to adjust to any resurgence of the virus.
The fact that the rule of six and social distancing are expected to remain in force until well into the summer indicates the extent of the worries over new mutations.
The Mail can also reveal that office staff are expected to be told to keep working from home when the Prime Minister unveils his roadmap. He is not expected to set a firm date for when employees should return to their desks, meaning that the ‘work from home if you can’ message will continue for the foreseeable future.
This is likely to include the reopening of holiday lets and larger hotels, with dining rooms still closed
As an organisation representing health trusts wrote to the PM to insist that data, rather than dates, was key:
- An additional 1.7million people will be told to shield in England after experts identified them as at serious risk;
- 820,000 of them will now be able to get their vaccines ‘as quickly as possible’;
- Government scientists want to keep the ‘one metre-plus’ social-distancing rule for the foreseeable future;
- A major report warned NHS waiting lists could hit a record 10million;
- The UK is expected to have enough vaccine for one jab for all over-50s by mid-March – and two for all adults by August;
- Almost 4,000 Amazon workers were wrongly told to self-isolate;
- Lord Lloyd Webber has revamped his theatre empire with improved ventilation;
- Nicola Sturgeon said the youngest pupils would return to Scotland’s classrooms for face-to-face teaching from next week;
- Four travellers were fined £10,000 each for failing to declare they had been in a Covid hotspot country;
- It was claimed that guests staying at a quarantine hotel were being allowed outside as much as they liked;
- A further 799 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the UK total to 118,195; another 10,625 cases were confirmed.
Sports such as golf and tennis could resume. Pubs, bars and restaurants will have to wait until early May under the plans, with a maximum of two households allowed to sit together indoors and the rule of six applying outside
The rapid roll-out of the vaccine has boosted optimism that Mr Johnson will announce that the long winter lockdown can be lifted sooner than expected.
It was claimed yesterday that the NHS will receive enough vaccine doses to jab everyone over 50, or 32million people, by the end of March – a full month ahead of schedule. Almost one in four Britons has now had at least one jab and experts yesterday said the UK’s vaccination programme was reducing coronavirus deaths among the over-80s.
However, the blueprint revealed by the Mail today is likely to be seen as more cautious than many in the hospitality and leisure sector were asking for. They had warned that businesses would go under unless they were allowed to get going again from the Easter weekend.
The next stage, in early June, would see the rules for pubs and restaurants relaxed with the rule of six extended indoors
The new route map, the most detailed outline of the Government’s thinking so far, lays out how vast swathes of the UK economy will reopen.
As already widely reported, schools will reopen from March 8, along with an easing of the restrictions on outdoor exercise and meeting others outdoors, followed by the reopening of non-essential shops at the end of March, or at the start of April at the latest.
Under plans discussed with industry figures, staycations in self-catered holiday lets, second homes or larger hotels would return in the first half of April, potentially just after Easter. Outdoor leisure, such as theme parks, public gardens and zoos, and outdoor sports such as golf, open air gyms and tennis would get the go-ahead at the same time.
This ‘soft opening’ of the economy would then be followed with a loosening of restrictions every four weeks if case numbers and hospital admissions continued to fall. An industry source said: ‘The suggestion is that we would broadly go back to normal in late June or July.’
Other insiders believe decisions could be taken at three-week intervals, as this is the time that it takes for the data to demonstrate the effect of the lockdown loosening.
Nicola Sturgeon reveals a roadmap out of restrictions (six days before Boris): First Minister confirms Scottish schools will reopen on MONDAY, two weeks before England, warns people NOT to book foreign holidays – and lockdown won’t be lifted until APRIL
Scotland’s way ahead
Nicola Sturgeon made several announcements today ahead of a full roadmap out of lockdown she expects to present next week.
Addressing MSPs in Holyrood she said:
- Schools would reopen from February 22, starting with limited primary and secondary age groups
- No other years would return to face-to-face teaching before March 15
- Scottish lockdown will continue into March
- Plans for a ‘strategic framework’ to plot a way out of coronavirus restrictions will be published next week
- Ministers ‘likely’ to advise against booking Easter holidays, either overseas or within Scotland
- By summer, ‘highly unlikely’ that overseas holidays will be ‘possible or advisable’, but staycations might be
Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that Scottish schoolchildren will return to class from next Monday, a full fortnight before their English counterparts.
The First Minister said that a phased reopening of schools will begin from February 22 – but dashed the hopes of Scots dreaming of a foreign summer holiday this year.
Under the plans announced at the start of February and confirmed at Holyrood this afternoon, pupils in Primary 1 to Primary 3 would also be allowed back into school first, as would those in the senior phase of secondary school.
All children under school age in early learning and childcare would also return.
The move heaps pressure on Boris Johnson to confirm classes in England will begin again on March 8.
He is widely expected to confirm this when he unveils a ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown next Monday, but questions remain over how many children will immediately return.
Ms Sturgeon said that after Monday, further returns to school would not happen before March 15, given the need to properly assess the ramifications of the return in phase one.
The First Minister said: ‘I want to be clear, though, that the need to properly assess the impact of this limited reopening means we think it unlikely, at this stage, that there will be any further return to school before 15 March.
‘As we consider these issues, we are of course doing everything we can to ensure that schools are as safe as possible for children, and for the education workforce.’
Senior phase pupils, teachers and school staff will be given lateral flow testing twice a week from next week.
The Scottish Government hopes to produce a full roadmap out of lockdown next week, Ms Sturgeon added.
But as a payoff for the schools going back, she warned today that foreign holidays are probably ruled out this year.
‘We are very likely to advise against booking Easter holidays, either overseas or within Scotland as it is highly unlikely that we will have been able to fully open hotels or self-catering accommodation by then,’ she told MSPs.
‘However for the summer, while it is still highly unlikely that overseas holidays will be possible or advisable, staycations might be – but this will depend on the data nearer the time.’
The First Minister said that a phased reopening of classrooms will begin from February 22.
Boris Johnson is expected to reveal his plans to reopen schools in England on February 22
No10 says nation’s shielders should stay indoors until March 31 – and adds 1.7MILLION more people in England to the list
The end date for shielding has been extended by more than a month with the medically at-risk told to stay at home until at least March 31, dashing hopes that lockdown could be significantly eased before Easter.
And the list of people who should stay at home to shield themselves from the coronavirus is being almost doubled after 1.7million more people in England were identified by a new algorithm that looks at multiple risk factors.
Almost a year after the epidemic started in Britain health chiefs are now urging more people to protect themselves and to do so for longer than anticipated.
The March 31 date appears to pour cold water on hopes that lockdown rules could start to be eased next month, suggesting medics don’t think society will be safe.
This is despite the Government smashing its target of vaccinating the 15million most vulnerable by February 15. There had been hopes that, once those most at risk were jabbed and developed immunity several weeks later, that the most draconian curbs could be lifted.
People who are shielding are advised not to leave their homes at any time, except for brief exercise or medical appointments, because they are at high risk of severe Covid-19 if they catch the coronavirus.
The Department of Health said it was expanding the shielding list after the Government’s scientific advisers identified additional adults at serious risk of Covid-19 using a new algorithm.
The DoH did not say who would be added, but the new list is said to go beyond looking only at people’s health conditions and to include other Covid risk factors including their age, weight, ethnicity and level of deprivation.
Of the 1.7million new shielders, 900,000 have already been vaccinated because their age or underlying health conditions made them eligible during the first phase of the roll out.
But health chiefs are now racing to immunise the 800,000 who were missed during the first wave of vaccinations. They will be targeted before the end of April.
Later, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes extended a business rates holiday to all retail, hospitality, leisure and aviation businesses during the 2021-22 financial year.
It will be funded from £1.1bn of cash from the UK Government under the Barnett Consequentials used to fairly distribute money to the four UK nations.
Returning to ‘100 per cent normality’ will likely not be possible in the near future in Scotland, Ms Sturgeon said.
The First Minister told MSPs that some restrictions may have to remain in place, and ‘trade offs’ will have to be made to ease some restrictions, such as the return of schools.
Ms Sturgeon said: ‘I know this is difficult given how desperate we all are to get back to something close to normal, but if we open up too quickly to meet arbitrary dates, we risk setting progress back.
‘Indeed, because of the new, more infectious variant, our exit from lockdown is likely to be even more cautious than it was last summer.
‘And secondly, probably for a while yet, 100 per cent normality is unlikely to be possible.
‘So in a world where we can’t do everything immediately, we will need to decide what matters most.’
The First Minister told MSPs in the Scottish Parliament that lockdown ‘has been working’ with a slowing down of the virus.
She said, though, the situation is still very fragile, adding ‘even a slight easing of restrictions could cause cases to start rising rapidly again’.
She said there would be no ‘immediate changes to the current lockdown restrictions’ and the ‘core stay at home requirement will remain in place until at least the beginning of March – and possibly for a further period beyond that’.
Schoolchildren in Wales are also expected to return from February 22.
The seven-day incidence rate in Wales has fallen to below 100 cases per 100,000 people for the first time in ‘many, many months’, while the test positivity rate is now under 10 per cent.
Health minister Vaughan Gething said yesterday that that the ‘majority of headroom’ created by the improved situation in Wales would be used to return children aged seven and under to face-to-face teaching from February 22.
However, schools in Northern Ireland are expected to remain closed until March 8 in line with England.
It came as the Scottish Government probed the case of US travellers mistakenly made to quarantine in a hotel despite a loophole in the rules.
Chun Wong and his daughter Kiernan, eight, arrived at Edinburgh airport on Monday via a connecting flight in Dublin and were set to spend 10 days self-isolating in a nearby hotel.
What are each of the UK’s nations planning?
ENGLAND: Boris Johnson is due to announce lockdown-easing roadmap, including details on phased return of schools, on February 22.
SCOTLAND: Nicola Sturgeon confirmed Scottish schools will start to reopen on February 22.
WALES: Primary schools will begin the process of reopening next Monday as Mark Drakeford announces a ‘review’ of the lockdown on Friday.
NORTHERN IRELAND: Schools remain closed to most pupils until at least March 8. Stormont is discussing what to do about general restrictions.
However, Mr Wong was contacted by officials later to tell him he did not need to abide by the rules.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘We are looking into the circumstances that led to Mr Wong being wrongly advised he needed to book a managed isolation package and would like to thank the family for their patience.
‘This is a very new system, being implemented at pace, and some initial challenges are to be expected.
‘However, once the error was identified, the family were contacted and advised they could make alternative arrangements for their self-isolation period.
‘We are following up with the travel management company to ensure a full refund is provided to Mr Wong.’
People flying directly into a Scottish airport on international flights have to self-isolate for 10 days in a quarantine hotel room, under new regulations taking effect on Monday.
Unless exempt, a passenger will have to pay £1,750 to quarantine in a room at one of six designated hotels in a bid to avoid importation of the virus.
In England, the UK Government will only require hotel quarantine for visitors from a ‘red list’ of 33 countries designated as high risk, meaning travellers arriving from elsewhere could avoid it by entering Scotland via England.
It also applies to those flying from the common travel area, which includes Ireland.
Visitors would still have to self-isolate for the 10-day period, but would not have to do so at one of the designated hotels due to a lack of agreement between Scottish and Westminster governments.
The above map shows where the strain B.1.525 has been detected in the world. It was first identified in the UK and Nigeria in late December
How will PM’s road map look?
The road map for easing lockdown will be unveiled on Monday, setting out the order in which rules will be lifted and the target dates. Here’s what we know so far:
- The only firm date is March 8, when schools will open.
- Socialising is the next priority. The plan is to allow individuals to go out with anyone from their own household, for example for a family picnic, or for individuals to see one person from another household.
- Outdoor sports including golf and tennis may be allowed at some point next month. Ministers are also keen to open leisure centres and gyms but this may take longer.
- High street stores could open at the end of next month, or the start of April. Hairdressers and beauty salons will follow later.
- Pubs and restaurants could open in April or May but possibly with customers served at outdoor tables at first.
- Rules on staying local and travelling in the UK for holidays will probably be eased in May.
It is understood the pair were the first to be taken to a hotel for quarantine in Scotland.
Mr Wong told the BBC: ‘I received a call from reception saying a gentleman from the airport would like to talk to me.
‘He said that since I landed in Dublin first and then got a connecting flight to here, I was not required to quarantine in a hotel.
‘I still have to quarantine and do the self-testing kit on the second and eighth day, but they said it was an error on their part.’
Mr Wong added he could have left the hotel on Monday night, but decided to stay the night as he was tired.
Officials were said to be making arrangements to transport him to his home in Fife on Tuesday.
Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, told the broadcaster: ‘Clearly everybody listening will realise that it doesn’t make sense.
‘While I have huge sympathy for this family, just to emphasise, the fact that they’ve stopped for a few hours in Dublin means that the rules don’t apply, that doesn’t make sense to me from a public health perspective.’
The Scottish Conservatives transport spokesman Graham Simpson MSP said the family ‘should never have been put in a hotel in the first place’, adding that the quarantine scheme had been a ‘shambles’.
Scottish Labour transport spokesman Colin Smyth said the policy had ‘fallen flat at the first hurdle’.
He added: ‘Thrown together at the last minute, these travel plans were always going to struggle to be effective in any meaningful way, with no effective checks and balances in place yet.’
It came as another Covid variant that could dodge vaccine-triggered immunity has been identified in the UK.
Scientists say the strain — called B.1.525 — has been spotted 33 times already but experts say this could be an underestimate. MailOnline understands health chiefs will today officially list it as a variant under investigation while further tests are carried out. It will not be instantly listed as a strain of concern, like the South African and Kent viruses.
It carries the E484K mutation found on both the South African and Brazilian variants, which make the current crop of jabs slightly less effective.
The variant also has the Q677H mutation on its crucial spike protein, prompting warnings from scientists that this could make it even more resistant to vaccines. And it shares similarities with the Kent strain, which studies show is up to 70 per cent more infectious and deadlier.
The B.1.525 variant was first detected in Britain in mid-December — but this doesn’t mean it evolved here. The UK does far more sequencing than other countries. It has already spread to 11 countries including the US, Canada and Denmark, which are not on the UK’s ‘red list’.
It has been linked to travel to Nigeria, where 12 out of 51 virus samples analysed — or 24 per cent — were the new variant. For comparison, the UK has only found it in 33 of 70,000 genomes sequenced, or less than 0.4 per cent.
The discovery will likely spark fears Britain’s lockdown restrictions may be delayed. Boris Johnson — who is set to unveil his ‘roadmap’ back to freedom on Monday — last week refused to rule out extending measures if the South African virus kept on spreading. His comments came after an alarming study claimed Oxford University’s vaccine may not stop people falling ill with the mutant strain.
Four travellers are fined £10,000 each after failing to declare they had arrived in the UK from ‘red-list’ country so they could avoid £1,750 hotel quarantine
Four passengers arriving in the UK have been fined £10,000 each for failing to tell authorities that they came from a ‘red-list’ country.
The passengers landed at Birmingham Airport where they ‘attempted to hide their routes’, West Midlands Police revealed.
Police have not revealed where the four people arrived from, but they were ‘identified and received £10,000 fines as a result’.
Arrivals from 33 ‘red list’ countries now have to pay £1,750 to quarantine in a hotel for ten days.
The passengers landed at Birmingham Airport where they ‘attempted to hide their routes’, West Midlands Police revealed (file image)
What are the rules for entering Britain?
- You cannot enter the UK if you’ve been in or through a country on the banned travel list (known as the ‘red list’) in the last 10 days, unless you’re British, Irish or you have the right to live in the UK
- Those travelling to England must take two tests after arriving. You must either quarantine where you’re staying or in a managed quarantine hotel for 10 days
- What you need to do depends on where you travel in the 10 days before you arrive – if you travel in or through a country on the banned travel list within 10 days, you must stay managed quarantine hotel; if not, you can quarantine at home
- You need to provide your journey and contact details in the 48 hours before you arrive in the UK. You must do this by completing the online passenger locator form
- You’ll need to show proof that you’ve completed the form when you arrive at the UK border as well as proof of a negative test taken three days before departure
- You could be fined £500 when you arrive at the border if you cannot provide proof that you have had a negative coronavirus test
- You do not need a test if you’re travelling within the UK, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey; from Ireland; from Ascension, Falkland Islands or St Helena; and children under 11 do not need a test
- In Scotland, arrivals from all international destinations have to quarantine, even if they are not on the red list.
They face £10,000 fines if they fail to follow quarantine rules and could be hit with a 10-year jail sentence if they lie about it on their passenger locator forms.
West Midlands Police temporary Assistant Chief Constable Chris Todd said: ‘By midday yesterday, on the first day of implementation, we have received six passengers who had declared travelling from a red list country, who were taken to the quarantine hotel.
‘We also had four passengers who were identified as having travelled from a red list country, that hadn’t declared it.’
The group are understood to have been fined individually, The Sun reports.
Countries on the Red List include Brazil, the United Arab Emirates, Portugal and South Africa.
And the list is set to ‘get longer before it gets shorter’ due to the Government’s concern over the spread of new variants in nations not already on the list.
At least four countries are reporting more than 30 cases of the Brazilian and South African variants.
They include Austria, which has seen 300 positive tests, and Belgium, with 55 – putting them at risk of being added to the list.
A further 33 countries where mutant strains have been found are not on the list.
These include Denmark, France, Greece, Japan, Kenya, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, Canada and the United States.
Today, it emerged that travellers from red list countries face an additional £1,200 bill on top of the original £1,750 if they test positive during their stay.
Meanwhile, concerns have again been raised about the safety of the current system.
Britain has banned flights from all red list countries, so passengers must take connecting flights, mixing with passengers from countries not on the list.
Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds claimed the policy ‘creates an unacceptable risk to the health of the British people’.
More countries are expected to be added to the ‘red list’ due to the spread of new variants, airports have been told. Pictured are arrivals at the Heathrow Holiday Inn today
Security escort passengers as they arrive at the Holiday Inn near Heathrow today to begin their ten-day quarantine period
At least four countries are reporting more than 30 cases of the Brazilian and South African variants. They include Austria, which has seen 300 positive tests, and Belgium, with 55 – putting them at risk of being added to the list
It also emerged that Border Force staff were only emailed official guidance about how to execute the new rules two and a half hours before they came into force.
Officers received a lengthy message with five attachments at 9.25pm on Sunday – giving them barely any time to prepare for their implementation at midnight.
One Border Force member at Heathrow called the process ‘an absolute joke’, as sources said many guards had not read the email by the time they started their shifts on Monday.
Travellers in hotels face an ADDITIONAL £1,200 bill on top of original £1,750 charge if they test positive during stay
Travellers from ‘red list’ countries who test positive for coronavirus during their compulsory 10 day stay in a quarantine hotel face an additional £1,200 bill, it emerged today.
All arrivals in England from 33 banned countries must book a stay in Government-approved accommodation at an initial cost of £1,750.
However, people who test positive for the disease will be forced to extend their stay and they must pick up the tab for the additional days spent in self-isolation.
The additional daily rate has been set at £152 and it was only published on the Government’s website on Monday, after some guests had already checked in.
Guests must take two tests during their stay, one on day two and one on day eight, and they can leave when they receive a negative result and once they have quarantined for 10 full days.
But a positive result from the first test will extend a traveller’s stay by two nights at an additional cost of £304.
And London mayor Sadiq Khan also tore into Home Secretary Priti Patel over the quarantine system, which he branded a ‘big failure’.
The Labour politician was asked on Good Morning Britain whether he had full confidence in Ms Patel after she failed to back the head of the Metropolitan Police in an interview last week.
His response was to stop and chuckle before laying into the senior minister.
‘I don’t like to be discourteous or impolite to colleagues, even from other parties,’ he said.
‘I think Priti Patel’s track record as a Home Sec won’t be a great one in relation to what she’s not done to address some of the concerns we had around the hostile environment, I think she has not addressed the concerns we have got in relation to our borders, I think the quarantine policies have been a big failure and I don’t think she has given the police the resources they need.’
Travellers arriving in England must quarantine in a hotel if they have been in one of the Government’s 33 ‘red list’ countries – which includes Portugal, the United Arab Emirates, South America and southern Africa – in the past 10 days.
Under the new rules, immigration control staff must check each traveller’s completed passenger locator form and hotel quarantine booking.
They must also verify passengers have received a negative Covid test, along with evidence of two additional test bookings for their 10-day quarantine period.
Most of the red-listed nations are in southern Africa and south America, but airports have been told to expect more to be added as analysis showed the Brazilian and South African variants are already spreading in other countries.
These include Austria, which has imposed strict new internal travel controls after an outbreak of 300 cases, and Belgium, which has seen 55 people test positive.
A senior airport source told The Telegraph: ‘The ”red list” is going to get longer before it gets shorter, which was disheartening to hear. The Government does seem to be fixated on the idea of quarantining against variants.
‘Given the scientific argument is that border controls are more important the fewer cases we have, there is danger we end up in a position like New Zealand.
‘They have low prevalence but there is a real debate and fear about reopening. They have no exit strategy.’
A Government spokesman said: ‘We are in a global pandemic which is why every traveller is subject to enhanced monitoring at UK airports.
‘People should not be travelling unless absolutely necessary. Every check from pre-departure testing, to the passenger locator form is to strengthen our borders and prevent the spread of coronavirus.
‘Border Force operational guidance on the measures has been issued and is regularly updated to ensure staff are supported on how to apply the new guidance.’