It’s not the first time in the last year that has been the question everyone wants the answer to.
But there is genuine hope that this time could be the last the entire country shuts down to stop the spread of Covid-19.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to set out his so-called ‘map’ out of lockdown at some point in the week beginning Monday, February 22.
However, on Sunday (February 14) the papers were full of supposedly leaked details from inside Government about the way virus restrictions will gradually be eased.
It’s unlikely lockdown will simply end overnight one day, as the Government continues to stress its cautious approach, especially with new more infectious virus variants present in the UK.
Some freedoms we are currently missing will come back before others.
While nothing is official until the Government confirms it, below we round up some of the most plausible reports about the current lockdown easing plan:
1 – All children could be allowed back in school by March 8
Most reports indicate the Government is increasingly favouring the idea of bringing all schools back at once, rather than going back to a system of local tiers.
Boris Johnson has repeatedly said getting kids back in the classroom is a priority.
March 8 has been widely touted as the date children could go back to proper school and free parents of the pressures of remote learning.
At this early stage, there remains debate though, with some virus experts saying March 8 is now in doubt as the date, especially if the PM would prefer to restore all schools to being fully open at once.
2 – Picnics could be permitted and outdoor socialising with others
Getting together with someone not from your household – outside and socially distanced – could also be on the cards for March 8, if you believe the weekend newspaper reports.
This could include picnics being allowed, as well as something as simple as a stroll with a friend, or a chat on a park bench.
The exact details of what would and wouldn’t be allowed are to be announced.
But it seems likely outdoor socialising, especially as spring brings warmer weather, will be high on the list to be permitted first.
The health experts are likely to be more accepting of people getting together in small numbers outside, where the risk of the virus passing from person to person is not as high.
3 – Non-essential shops could be next to reopen
After outdoor socialising and schools, could come shops being allowed to open their doors again.
Again, this is likely to be linked to shops having ‘Covid safe’ measures in place – from limiting numbers allowed in store, to mandatory mask wearing and adequate ventilation.
Some weekend reports suggested the Government is risk assessing different types of business to decide which ones to allow back first.
4 – Drinks in pub gardens in April?
Many people will be craving a drink in a pub after the year we have had so far.
Unfortunately for those desperate to support their local, debate is particularly fierce on when and how pubs could open up again.
A lot of news outlets said at the weekend that beer gardens could be allowed in April, dependent on virus cases and hospitalisations continuing to fall.
Pub chains are also calling for Government support to save popular boozers from closing for good.
If pubs do come back in the next couple of months, it’s likely to be with rules in place again.
Let’s face it though – at this stage we’ll take any access to a Sunday roast and a pint.
5 – Hotel and other hospitality in time for Easter?
Further down the list of Government priorities, but no less pressing for those facing huge challenges to keep their businesses going, are hotels and other hospitality venues, like restaurants.
A group of Conservative MPs have called on Boris Johnson to fully reopen hospitality in time for Easter – so businesses can benefit.
They also insist this must be the last full scale national lockdown.
The Prime Minister is facing growing pressure from his own colleagues to open up Britain again, then.
But he will also know that the experts are constantly warning that if this is to be the last lockdown, it cannot end too soon.
The Government’s target of vaccinating (or offering a dose to) the 15 million most vulnerable to Covid by mid- February has been met, it was announced on Sunday.
So now it’s all about getting the jab to as many as possible by Easter if health experts are to feel confident about a return to some sort of normality.
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