Revealed: The 7 key factors that will decide how and when lockdown is lifted

Ross McGuinness
·4-min read
A woman walks past the 'Act Like You've Got It' coronavirus campaign advert in London. (Photo by Dinendra Haria / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
The government has listed its criteria that will define when and how the lockdown is eased. (PA)

Boris Johnson will examine seven key factors ahead of revealing his plans for easing England鈥檚 coronavirus lockdown.

The prime minister is set to lay out his road map next Monday for exiting the country鈥檚 third national lockdown, which he announced at the beginning of January.

The government insists the reopening of schools remains its top priority when it comes to lockdown easing, with a slated return date of 8 March, although some secondary schools could go back a week later.

The rules on socialising and outdoor recreation are also set to be eased, with some reports suggesting ministers are looking at reopening pubs and restaurants from early April鈥檚 Easter weekend.

Johnson says the government has still not decided on its lockdown easing plans, but that it will look at a number of factors before arriving at a strategy.

The prime minister鈥檚 official spokesman said on Monday there are seven key criteria that will dictate how and when the lockdown is eased.

Deaths

On Monday, the UK reported a further 230 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus deaths.

Although figures on Mondays are usually low because of weekend reporting delays, this was the lowest daily number of deaths on an equivalent day since the beginning of October.

The total number of weekly deaths between 9 and 15 February was 4,598, a 26% drop on the previous seven-day period.

Infection rates

According to the government鈥檚 COVID-19 daily updates, there were 9,765 cases new cases recorded on Monday.

The seven-day average of new daily cases was 12,580 as of 12 February, the latest date for which complete data is available.

A woman wearing a face mask walks past a Covid-19 NHS publicity campaign poster in London. The UK government has said that it will vaccinate all over 50s by May 2021. (Photo by Dinendra Haria / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Coronavirus infection rates are decreasing in the UK. (PA)

The last time the figure was lower was on 3 October 2020, when the seven-day average of daily new COVID cases was 11,994.

Daily hospital admissions

The number of people with coronavirus admitted to hospital on Thursday, 11 February - the date of the latest figures - was 1,641, according to the government鈥檚 COVID database, its lowest level since 6 December.

This is lower than the peak of the first wave, when 3,565 patients were admitted on 1 April last year, and a decrease from the new year peak of 4,574 admitted on 12 January.

COVID patients in hospital

However, the number of coronavirus sufferers in hospital, as of 11 February, is still higher than the first wave peak last spring.

Last Thursday, there were 23,341 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, a fall from the 39,241 on 18 January, but more than the 21,687 on 12 April during the spring peak.

Vaccine programme

On Monday, the government met its target of vaccinating 15 million people from the top four priority groups by the middle of February.

Watch: Number of weekly COVID deaths falls

These four groups included: elderly care home residents and staff; over-80s and frontline health and social care workers; over-75s; all those aged 70 and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals.

The next target is to vaccinate another 17 million people, including all over-50s and those in at-risk groups, by the end of April.

However, it has been reported that if vaccinations continue at their current pace then all over-50s could receive a jab by 24 March.

R rate

The R rate or reproduction number in the UK is now between 0.7 and 0.9, the government says.

This R value means that, on average, every 10 people infected will infect between 7 and 9 other people.

The government says the number of new infections is shrinking by between 2% and 5% each day.

Transmission rates

According to the latest figures published on Tuesday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), all regions in England and Wales saw a decrease in the weekly number of deaths involving COVID-19.

There were 7,320 deaths registered in the week ending 5 February where coronavirus was mentioned on the death certificate, the ONS said.

This was a fall of 1,113 deaths (13.1%) compared with the previous week.

Watch: What you can and can't do during England's lockdown