Internal plans in Whitehall have suggested a rapid reopening of the economy in the weeks after pupils return to classrooms on the 8th of March, it is understood
Whitehall officials have drawn up a timetable in order to help work out the internal plans to roll out the UK government’s planned mass COVID-19 testing regime.
This suggests that there is a desire to reopen rapidly in the weeks following when schools readmit most of the UK’s children next month.
The blueprint has suggested that students within higher education and further education could be returning in mid-April, and non-essential shops would reopen at the same time.
Then, in late April, hospitality venues, leisure facilities, hotels, and some sporting venues will open their doors.
This comes after 15 million people in the UK have been vaccinated for the coronavirus, with everyone in the top four of the UK’s priority groups having been offered a vaccine for COVID-19, the nation’s health secretary has now confirmed.
Entertainment venues and more sporting facilities would then follow in the early weeks of May.
The blueprint was included within Whitehall documents in recent days.
But one of those involved in the lockdown-easing work going on in the government has said that there would be a moment all the work went into a “black box” for Number 10 to consider, and then anything would be possible.
This is, however, what officials were expecting just a few days ago.
There has been little evidence in public data this week to suggest a more cautious approach than expected will be needed on Monday, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to set out his roadmap for easing coronavirus restrictions.
Downing Street will say no decisions have yet been made.
The roadmap out of lockdown in England cannot be completed until the prime minister has considered the findings of a vast Public Health England study on the impact of COVID vaccines on infection rates.
Only once he knows that can he determine how safely he can reopen the economy.
This comes after Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, aged 99, was taken to London’s King Edward VII Hospital on Tuesday evening, the palace announced on Wednesday afternoon. His stay is expected to last a few days so that he can rest while being observed by doctors.
During a visit to a mass vaccination centre located in Wales on Wednesday, Mr Johnson noted how hospitality was one of the last sectors to reopen last year after the first lockdown.
“I know there’s a lot of understandable speculation in the papers and people coming up with theories about what we’re going to do, what we’re going to say, and about the rates of infection, and so on,” he said.