When will lockdown end?

It is undoubtedly the question everyone wants the answer to.

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 a number of papers reported on leaked details from inside Government about the way virus restrictions will gradually be eased.

Today Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said there is “some way to go” before lockdown is eased, as ministers are to begin reviewing coronavirus restrictions in England.

He stressed on Monday that the Government is awaiting key data on how successfully vaccines reduce transmission after more than 15 million people across the UK received their first dose of a vaccine.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the achievement – just over two months after the vaccination programme delivered its first jab – as a “significant milestone” in the fight against the disease.

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Ministers have said they are “on track” to meet the target of getting an offer of a first dose to everyone in the UK in the top four priority groups – including all over-70s – by Monday’s deadline.

Nothing is official until the Government confirms it, but here we look at what measures could be eased first:

Will 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.

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.

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.

Can I drink in pub gardens by 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.

Will hotel and other hospitality open 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.