The government has announced its approach to ending the national restrictions on 2 December.
The COVID-19 Winter Plan sets out the programme for suppressing the virus, protecting the NHS and the vulnerable, keeping education and the economy going and providing a route back to normality.
The key points of the plan include:
- The government’s objectives
The government’s strategy will be guided by three objectives:
- Suppressing the spread of infection
- Finding new and more effective ways of managing the virus and enabling life to return closer to normal
- Minimising damage to the economy and society, jobs and livelihoods. And ensuring education is safeguarded in nurseries, schools, colleges and universities.
2. Route back to normality
- Vaccines are at the centre of the government’s plan to ensure life can return to as normal as possible.
- Effective treatments for COVID-19 will continue to be vital to manage the virus even as vaccines are rolled out in the UK and globally.
- A strengthened programme of community testing will allow the identification of people who do not have symptoms but are unintentionally spreading the virus.
3. Controlling the virus
The scientific advances described above provide the route back to normality and should reduce the need for economic and social restrictions in the spring. But until these have been deployed, the government must continue to use other tools to suppress the virus.
4. A targeted approach in England
The COVID-19 Winter Plan also sets out how national restrictions in England will be lifted on 2 December.
On 2 December, across all of England, regardless of tier:
- The stay at home requirement will end, with travel being permitted again subject to guidance in each tier.
- Shops, personal care, gyms and the wider leisure sector will reopen.
- Collective worship, weddings and outdoor sports can resume.
- People will no longer be limited to seeing only one other person in outdoor public spaces - the rule of six will now apply outdoors as it did in the previous set of tiers.
On 2 December England will move back into a regional, tiered approach.
5. Christmas and beyond
The government is agreeing a common approach with the Devolved Administrations of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales for a time-limited change to social restrictions over the Christmas period.
6. Maintaining the right behaviours
The most important behaviours to maintain in order to suppress the virus are:
- Wash hands for 20 seconds
- Wear a face covering in enclosed environments
- Maintain social distancing
- Minimise the number of people you see and the duration of contact
- Get a test immediately if you have symptoms
- Make sure any indoor space is well ventilated
- If meeting people, try to do so outdoors
- Self isolate if you or another household member has symptoms or has tested positive