On Monday 22 March there will be a Westminster Hall debate on a number of e-petitions relating to the Government’s Spring 2021 Covid-19 roadmap. The debate will be opened by Nick Fletcher MP.
The E-petitions that will be the subject of the debate are:
- Repeal the Coronavirus Act 2020 (102,807 signatures);
- Allow golf to be played with appropriate safety measures (132,648 signatures);
- Keep gyms open during Tier 4 lockdown (179,994 signatures);
- Shut all nurseries and early years settings during lockdown (103,121 signatures); and
- Open gyms first as we come out of lockdown & fund a Work Out to Help Out scheme (229,390 signatures)
COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021
On 22 February 2021, the Prime Minister made a statement to the House of Commons setting out plans for easing lockdown restrictions in England. He said that the changes would apply across England as a whole, take place in a gradual four step process, and would be subject to four tests. These are set out in the Government document, COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021:
- The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.
- Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
- Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
- Our assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern.
The first step for relaxing lockdown restrictions has two parts, the first of this group of changes were made on 8 March 2021:
- all children in school and further education may return to face to face teaching;
- the regulations were amended to allow people to meet one other person outside for recreation as well as exercise;
- amendments also allow wider Covid-secure election campaigning; and
- Care home residents will be able to be visited by a nominated named visitor.
On 29 March, the second part of the first step of easing restrictions are due to take place:
- The rule of six will apply to people meeting outdoors and two households will be allowed to meet, including in private gardens;
- Outdoor sports facilities will be allowed to open and organised outdoor sport may resume; and
- The stay at home order in regulations will no longer apply.
The Government have said that England will only move through the three next steps on the data and basis of the tests above; the final step would take place no earlier than 21 June. It would mean no legal limits on social contact, no limits on attendance at weddings and allow larger events to take place.
Cabinet Office, COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021, 23 February 2021
Prime Minister’s Office, PM statement to the House of Commons on roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions in England: 22 February 2021
Links to a selection of briefings are provided below but there are further briefings on coronavirus related issues on the Commons and Lords’ Library websites, and on the POST website:
- Coronavirus: the lockdown laws, Commons Library, March 2021
- Latest evidence on impacts of COVID-19 in children: March 2021, POST
- Coronavirus and schools: FAQs, Commons Library, February 2021
- Coronavirus: A history of English lockdown laws, Commons Library, January 2021
- Coronavirus: Local authorities’ adult social care duties (the Care Act easements), Commons Library, October 2020
- Coronavirus Bill: Health and social care measures, Commons Library, March 2020