The key COVID lockdown dates facing Brits in the coming weeks

·Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
·6-min read
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - APRIL 26: Members of the public enjoy a drink at the Three Sisters Pub in the Cowgate as lockdown measures are eased on April 26, 2021 in Edinburgh, United Kingdom. Cafes, beer gardens, non-essential shops and museums are reopening in Scotland today as lockdown easing continues. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
A number of key unlocking dates are coming up this month as the four UK nations edge towards normality. (Getty)

A number of key coronavirus unlocking dates are coming up this month as the four nations edge towards normality.

However, the spread of the more transmissible Indian variant of the virus, which has been renamed the "Delta" variant by the World Health Organization, could end up delaying the full lifting of restrictions.

Here are the situations, and key dates, in each country over the coming weeks.

England

Since 17 May, England has been at stage three of its four-stage road map out of lockdown allowing, for example, up to six people to socialise inside homes and indoor service at pubs and restaurants.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 03:  British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives a thumbs up after receiving his second dose of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine from James Black, at the Francis Crick Institute on June 03, 2021 in London, England. More than half of all adults in the United Kingdom have received their second dose of a coronavirus vaccine. (Photo by Matt Dunham - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Boris Johnson, pictured after receiving his second vaccine on Thursday, has repeatedly insisted there is currently 'nothing in the data' which would put the 21 June unlocking plans at risk. (Matt Dunham/pool)

Boris Johnson is still targeting 21 June for stage four, which would see most limits on social contact dropped. The first key date to look out for ahead of this is...

10 June

On this day, Public Health England (PHE) will announce the latest number of confirmed cases of the B.1.617.2 Indian variant in the UK.

Thursday's most recent data showed cases involving the variant increased 79% in a week, with 12,431 confirmed infections as of Wednesday. PHE also confirmed it is now the dominant strain of the virus.

It also suggested that for people who have not been vaccinated, there is "early evidence" Indian variant infections may pose an "increased risk of hospitalisation" compared to the previously-dominant Kent "Alpha" variant.

Watch: Boris Johnson's latest comments on 21 June unlocking target date (from Wednesday)

PHE’s announcement of the latest variant case numbers will be important because the state of variants of concern is one of the government’s “four tests” ahead of each stage of unlocking.

Furthermore, it will be the final set of Indian variant case numbers we get ahead of…

14 June

This is the date currently set for the prime minister to make an announcement over whether the end of lockdown can go ahead on 21 June.

It has been suggested by some scientific advisers this week that a delay could mean another two weeks in stage three.

Scotland

Scotland is using a five-tier system of localised restrictions, and earlier this week first minister Nicola Sturgeon paused plans to ease the rules in much of the country on...

5 June

It had been hoped most of the country would move down to the less strict Level 1. Instead, 13 areas will be in Level 2.

Only island communities have been moved down to the least severe Level 0, the tier that most resembles normality but still imposes restrictions on people's freedom such as a maximum of eight people from four households being able to meet in homes.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - JUNE 03: Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon attends First Ministers Questions at the Scottish Parliament on June 3, 2021 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Andy Buchanan - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Nicola Sturgeon has paused the easing of restrictions in much of Scotland. (Getty)

So, this is how different areas of the country will be divided up from Saturday. Follow the links for the official rules in each level.

Level 0: Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles – as well as a number of “small, remote islands”

Level 1: Highlands, Argyll and Bute, Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire, Moray, Angus, Perth and Kinross, Falkirk, Fife, Inverclyde, East Lothian, West Lothian, West Dunbartonshire, Dumfries an Galloway and the Scottish Borders

Level 2: Glasgow, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Dundee, East Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire, North Ayrshire, South Ayrshire East Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, Clackmannanshire and Stirling.

"The summer"

Unlike Boris Johnson, Sturgeon has not set a target date for returning to normality.

On Tuesday, she only said the vaccination programme means "we can still be optimistic about our chances of much more normality over the summer and beyond".

Expect to hear more about this towards the end of the month.

Wales

First minister Mark Drakeford confirmed on Friday that the country will move from alert level two to the less severe alert level one on...

7 June

When this happens, groups of up to 30 people will be able to meet outdoors, including in private gardens, while up to three linked households will be able to meet indoors.

Larger organised events, such as concerts, football matches and sporting activities, will resume for up to 4,000 people standing and 10,000 people seated.

CARDIFF, WALES - MAY 14: First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, speaks during a press conference at the Welsh Government building in Cathays Park on May 14, 2021 in Cardiff, Wales. Wales will move to alert level two on Monday with indoor hospitality and entertainment venues allowed to reopen. International travel will resume with safeguards in place for people returning from some countries. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
Wales first minister Mark Drakeford (Getty)

The phased relaxing of measures will be reviewed ahead of...

21 June

This is the date set by the Welsh government to determine whether indoor events can restart.

Live performances are already allowed in hospitality venues, but they are still subject to strict public health restrictions.

The Welsh government will also consider further changes to the regulations on indoor activity "if public health conditions allow".

These include a "rule of six" for meeting indoors in homes and increased numbers for organised indoor gatherings or events.

Northern Ireland 

Northern Ireland was the last country in the UK to, for example, allow the return of indoor service at restaurants and pubs. Plans for further easing of restrictions are set to be shared on...

10 June

This is the date set for a "comprehensive formal review" of the current rules, which are similar to those in England.

They include six people from two households being allowed to socialise in homes, indoor table service at pubs and restaurants and non-essential travel allowed to the rest of the UK.

The review could pave the way for indoor gatherings to be extended to a maximum of 10 people, no limits on meeting outdoors in public, and bar service allowed once again in pubs.

The executive is yet to schedule a date on when any further reviews will take place.

Other key dates to look out for...

Vaccines – 21 June

The government is aiming to have offered both vaccine doses to the top nine priority groups – over 50s, care home residents and staff, frontline health and social care workers, clinically extremely vulnerable people and under-50s who are in an at-risk group – before this date.

The Times reported last week it is on course to do so.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - JUNE 02: A member of the public on the South Side of the city receives their covid vaccination inside a bus on June 02, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. Scotland's national clinical director, Prof Jason Leitch, said the country was entering a third wave of Covid-19 cases as lockdown restrictions eased, but added,
A member of the public receiving a vaccine in Glasgow earlier this week. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

The vaccine programme is UK-wide, so giving full protection to the most vulnerable groups will play a major part in each nation's policy on lifting restrictions.

The government is also aiming to have offered every adult a first dose of the jab by 31 July.

Social distancing – 14 June?

Boris Johnson's government's review of the current "one-metre plus" social distancing advice, along with consideration of the possible introduction of coronavirus status certificates, had been expected by the end of May.

It never arrived.

Presumably, the reviews will be complete in time for Johnson's announcement on 14 June.

Watch: Boris Johnson receives second COVID vaccine dose

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