The regional tier system is set to be axed in favour of national measures when the current third lockdown is eased in England, it has been reported.
Reportedly, Boris Johnson has already signed off a three-stage plan for reopening the economy. The plan could also allow pubs in England to serve customers again outside by the beginning of April.
A senior government official told the I, that the Prime Minister’s roadmap out of lockdown will begin with opening schools, which has been scheduled for March 8 – depending on the levels of coronavirus.
The government will then reportedly assess the effect of pupils returning to lessons on the virus’s reproduction number, or R number, before moving to the next stage.
If there is no significant rise in the reproduction rate of infections in the week leading up to Good Friday on April 2, then the final stage of Mr Johnson’s plan would be put into action.
The I reports that this will include allowing hospitality businesses, including hotels, restaurants and pubs, to open their doors again from the Easter weekend.
This means that people would be permitted to holiday in England, but foreign travel is likely to be banned for some months to come.
The Government official said: “My understanding is the Prime Minister is encouraged by a slew of data coming out that shows the positive impact the current lockdown has had.
“By March, there’s also a good chance that almost, if not all over-50s and younger vulnerable groups would have been given at least their first dose of a vaccine.
“The optimism is increasing at Downing Street and we may well be enjoying a pint in the pub by Easter if the data continues to improve in the coming weeks.”
The regional tier system could also be axed in the proposal after the lockdowns proved ineffective at curbing the spread of the more transmissible variants of the virus. The government official speaking to the I said that the government would “like to do away with the tier system entirely.”
They said: “If another lockdown is required in the future because of another new, more transmissible, variant that current vaccines don’t work against comes along, then there’s not a great deal anyone can do about that.
“The current plan is very much the three-stage approach, beginning with the reopening of schools, watching the R number, and if that remains low then non-essential shops will open. Then another short wait until hospitality businesses open.”
Boris Johnson’s roadmap is expected to be announced on February 22 which will outline the details on when the country can come out of the third national lockdown.