What happened with the UK’s lockdown?
On March 23, Boris Johnson placed the UK on a police-enforced lockdown with drastic new measures in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak.
The Prime Minister ordered people only to leave their homes under a list of “very limited purposes”, banning mass gatherings and ordering the closure of non-essential shops.
Mr Johnson announced a step by step strategy for phase two of the lockdown on Sunday 10 May, in which he spoke about a gradual easing of the restrictions, rather than a wholesale lifting of the lockdown. However, reaction to his speech was fierce, with many accusing the Prime Minister of confusing the British public.
On Monday 11 May Mr Johnson published his “roadmap” for getting the UK out of the lockdown, which set out a three-phase strategy for gradually lifting the current restrictions.
Mr Johnson later announced on Thursday 28 May that the five tests to ease lockdown have been met, confirming that gatherings of up to six people can take place in outdoor spaces from Monday 1 June.
On June 23 – exactly three months after the country was put into lockdown – Mr Johnson hailed the beginning of the end of Britain’s “national hibernation”.
The Prime Minister said families and friends will be able to mingle indoors and even go on holiday together from Saturday, July 4. This day, which became known as Super Saturday, also saw pubs, restaurants and hairdressers reopen, as the two metre rule was reduced to one metre.
But Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, warned that many of new social distancing measures will have to remain in place “until this time next year” because a coronavirus vaccine is still a long way off.
On Friday July 17, Mr Johnson set out his roadmap for ending lockdown, with remaining leisure facilities to reopen and all beauty treatments to resume from August 1. Mr Johnson also announced that official guidance advising people to “work from home if you can” will be relaxed in a bid to restart the economy.
The government is keen to avoid another blanket lockdown. However, preventing a national lockdown will depend on whether or not there is a second wave of the virus and how effectively the Government can respond if the infection rate rises quickly in multiple areas of the UK.
Read more: What are the latest rules on social distancing?