According to the Daily Mail, should, the COVID infection rates continue to fall, as they have been throughout the third national lockdown, the government may also be considering allowing families to travel across the UK for staycations in self-catering accommodation over the Easter holidays.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said to US television network CBS: “Thanks to the efforts of the British people, the lockdown, plus possibly the effect of the vaccine, we’re going to see the rates coming down more sharply. They’re falling at the moment. We want to be in a position where we can begin to open up.”

It is thought that there easing of restriction os activities such as outdoor exercise and one-to-one sports such as golf and tennis could lead to the reopening of non-essential shops, with pubs and restaurants being allowed to serve people outdoors later in April.

However, indoor hospitality will likely not be permitted until May at the earliest, with some estimates saying it will be closer to August.

The Prime Minister will announce his roadmap which sets out his plan for lifting the national lockdown in England on Monday 22 Feb, which will start on 8 March with the return of schools and allowing people to meet one friend for coffee on a park bench.

Johnson hinted that non-essential shops would be the first to reopen following the return of pupils to schools.

Following that, if there is still no significant rise in the R number in the week up to Good Friday (2 April), pubs, restaurants, hotels and other hospitality venues could then be given the go-ahead to open from the Easter weekend.

Tom Ironside, of the British Retail Consortium, said: “As soon as the Government announce retail can reopen, shops will be ready to do so safely.”

However, hospitality industry leaders have scoffed at the plans, and demanded the return of indoor drinking, saying that the typical British weather makes outdoor drinking and dining unfeasible in April and that a partial reopening would not be viable for many landlords.

Scientists have urged hospitality executives to be patient, reminding them that failure to get it done correctly will likely lead the country right back to square one and another lockdown.

The focus of the governments' vaccine programme will be on the over-50s, as wells the remaining vulnerable people, and Health Secretary Matt Hancock has now set out another ambitious goal for an additional 17 million people to be vaccinated by the end of April.

He said: “We still have a long way to go and we will not rest until we have offered a vaccine to the entire adult population.”

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