Last night the Prime Minister held a press conference outlining more details about Step 4, the final stage of the England roadmap, which is expected to start on 19 July (a decision will be made on 12th July).
At Step 4, the Government will remove outstanding legal restrictions on social contact, life events, and open the remaining closed settings. Guidance will be provided to the public and to businesses on how they can help reduce the spread of COVID-19. There are 5 principles for managing COVID-19 as England learns to live with the virus:
Reinforce the country’s vaccine wall of defence through booster jabs and driving take up
Enable the public to make informed decisions through guidance, rather than laws
Retain proportionate test, trace and isolate plans in line with international comparators
Manage risks at the border and support a global response to reduce the risk of variants emerging globally and entering the UK
Retain contingency measures to respond to unexpected events, while accepting that further cases, hospitalisations and deaths will occur as the country learns to live with COVID-19
The PM also announced that the Government will work with the travel industry on removing the need for fully-vaccinated people to isolate when entering the country from amber countries. The Transport Secretary is due to set out more details later this week.
COVID-19 Response: Summer 2021
The UK government has published the COVID-19 Response: Summer 2021 setting out the details of Step 4 of the COVID-19 roadmap in England. The Devolved Administrations are setting out plans for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In summary, at Step 4:
All remaining limits on social contact (currently 6 people or 2 households indoors, or 30 people outdoors) will be removed and there will be no more restrictions on how many people can meet in any setting, indoors or outdoors
All settings will be able to open, including nightclubs. Large events, such as music concerts and sporting events can resume without any limits on attendance or social distancing requirements
All restrictions on life events such as weddings, funerals, bar/bat mitzvahs and baptisms will be removed, including the remaining restrictions on the number of attendees. There will be no requirement for table service at life events, or restrictions on singing or dancing
COVID-status certification will not be required in law as a condition of entry for visitors to any setting. Organisations can choose to ask visitors for proof of COVID-status, as long as they meet existing legal obligations including under equality law. The Government is providing a way for individuals to easily demonstrate their COVID-status. This can be achieved by completion of a full vaccine course, a recent negative test, or proof of natural immunity - through the NHS COVID Pass on the NHS app
The legal requirements to wear a face covering will be lifted in all settings. Guidance will advise that wearing a face covering will reduce personal risk and the risk to others, when coming into contact with people you don’t normally meet in enclosed and crowded spaces
Social distancing rules (2 metres or 1 metre with additional mitigations) will be lifted. Social distancing will only be required in limited circumstances: ports of entry for passengers between disembarkation and border control in order to manage the risk of Variants of Concern being transmitted between individuals; and people who are self-isolating should also continue to socially distance from others, particularly where they have had a positive test
Regulations that place COVID-secure requirements on businesses, including table service, and distancing between tables, will be lifted. ‘Working Safely’ guidance will be updated to provide examples of sensible precautions that employers can take to reduce risk in their workplaces. Employers should take account of this guidance in preparing the risk assessments they are already required to make under pre-pandemic health and safety rules
The Government will no longer instruct people to work from home. Employers can start to plan a return to workplaces
Businesses must not require a self-isolating worker to come to work, and should make sure that workers and customers who feel unwell do not attend the setting
Businesses will be encouraged to ask staff and customers to clean their hands regularly and clean surfaces that people touch regularly. The Government will provide guidance on how businesses can reduce unnecessary contact in the workplace, where it is practical. Operators will still be encouraged to use outside space where practical, and to consider the supply of fresh air to indoor spaces. Carbon dioxide (CO2) monitors could be used to help identify where a space is poorly ventilated with businesses encouraged to take steps to improve ventilation if CO2 readings are consistently high
Businesses will be encouraged to display QR codes for customers to check in using the NHS COVID-19 app, to support NHS Test and Trace, although it will no longer be a legal requirement
Building on the updated guidance on meeting friends and family, announced as part of Step 3, the Government will provide advisory guidance on how people can manage the risks to themselves and to others, including:
Meeting in well-ventilated areas where possible, such as outdoors or indoors with windows open
Wearing a face covering where they come into contact with people they don’t normally meet in enclosed and crowded spaces
Washing hands with soap and water or using hand sanitiser regularly throughout the day
Staying at home if unwell, to reduce the risk of passing on other illnesses onto friends, family, colleagues, and others in your community
Considering individual risks, such as clinical vulnerabilities and vaccination status
The Government will continue to urge people to get vaccinated, and to self-isolate and get tested if they have symptoms. It will remain a legal requirement for people to self-isolate if they test positive or are told to do so by NHS Test and Trace. The public will continue to be encouraged to download and use the latest version of the NHS COVID-19 app to help reduce the spread of the virus
The Government intends to exempt people who have been fully vaccinated from the requirement to self-isolate if they are a contact of a positive case, with a similar exemption for under 18s. Anyone who tests positive will still need to self-isolate regardless of their vaccination status.
Travel restrictions will continue as part of the UK Government’s plan to prevent the continued emergence of Variants of Concern and as above, the Transport Minister will set out more details later this week.
The social distancing review and COVID-Status Certification review reports have been published. These reviews, alongside other Roadmap reviews into events, have informed the approach to Step 4. You can read the reports here.
What does this mean for school trips, outreach and West End workshops?
Further guidance is expected for schools, but it appears that school bubbles will also be removed on 19th July. This is expected to mean that:
School trips from September 2021 can go ahead without restrictions, including overnight stays in group accommodation, such as youth hostels, and on public/private transport
Theatres will be able to run at full capacity
Workshops in West End studios have no capacity limits
Outreach workshops, along with after school and weekend clubs and courses can resume without year group bubble or other restrictions.
As per government guidance, 'common sense' will be in play and Theatre Workout will continue to respect the personal choices of individuals and organisations we work with regarding Covid safeguards, but we will continue to monitor the situation.
For the foreseeable future we will continue to:
Recommend face masks be worn in public spaces, such as on transport
Make every effort to ensure workshop venues are well ventillated, and that hand washing and sanitising facilities are in place
Respect school safeguarding policies when working on site or on trips
Advise clients of any restrictions or safeguarding policies in place at theatres, attractions, museums, etc. and we will expect clients to respect those safeguards
Advise any client not to travel, or to take relevant safeguarding precautions when showing symptoms or testing positive
Recommend all groups be self-tested before travelling