BRITS will be able to meet up with a friend to have a coffee on a park bench and even enjoy a picnic in the first easing of the Covid lockdown on March 8, it has been reported.
Senior government sources claimed the outdoor activities will be the first to get the green light next month - followed by sports such as golf and tennis - as the UK finally begins to lift restrictions.Brits will be able to meet one pal for a picnic or coffee in a park from March 8Credit: Getty Images - Getty
Park bench coffees and picnics will be able to be enjoyed with anyone from your own household or with one other person, reports The Telegraph.
However, households will still not be allowed to mix inside or outside with anyone else.
The move will be the first step in a wider plan to ease restrictions with schools, non-essential retail and hospitality being opened again in the following month.
“It will be a national reopening – none of this geographical tiering stuff," a ministerial source said.
Ministers are reportedly discussing plans to reopen primary schools first - with secondaries due to follow up to two weeks afterwards.
The government is also reported to expect to see pubs reopen with outdoor dining in the first weekend in April so households can enjoy Easter lunch.
Non-essential shops are also likely to be allowed to open as they are not believed to have a significant impact on the R rate.
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Boris Johnson has been optimistic about starting to steer the UK out of lockdown as cases and deaths begin to fall ahead of him laying out his plans on February 22.
One source said: “It is still being debated over the Feb 22 roadmap but the idea is to get hospitality up and running for Easter.
"That is the plan.”
However, any reopening will also go alongside "draconian" plans to hit local outbreaks hard with a surge in testing, tracing and isolating anyone with the virus.
The new crackdowns will be based on measures which were used to track the so-called South African variant in Surrey.
It is reported the government is attempting to develop a "carrot and stick" approach to overcome the virus - with the carrot as lockdowns ease, and the stick to beat down any possible resurgences.
Ministers are looking to mimic Australia which used sweeping lockdown measures in response to just handfuls of cases.
But the tough response has succeeded in keeping the virus down.
The PM will meet with the Cabinet and scientific advisers this week to draw up the plans as he prepares to address the nation on February 22.
Britain is also believed to have be on course to hit its landmark target of 15million vaccinations ahead of schedule.
Mr Johnson is due to hold a Downing Street press conference on Monday to announce the achievement - but sources say the PM doesn't want to celebrate as there is still work to be done.
One minister said they "will not rest" until the whole country is vaccinated - with the next phase now being rolled out nationwide.Boris Johnson has said he is 'optimistic' that lockdown will soon be easedCredit: Getty Images - Getty The PM made the comments during a visit to a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in StocktonCredit: AFP
Covid deaths dropped by a quarter this week as 621 people died today and 13,308 tested positive.
The total number of fatalities now stands at 116,908.
Deaths have continued to drop in a tentative sign the lockdown is working and Britain is getting over the darkest days of the pandemic.
Speaking during a visit to the Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies plant in Billingham, Teesside, where the new Novavax vaccine will be manufactured, Mr Johnson spoke of his optimism.
He said: "I'm optimistic, I won't hide it from you. I'm optimistic, but we have to be cautious."
He said his first priority was opening schools in England on March 8 followed by non-essential retail and then hospitality venues.
The PM added: "Our children's education is our number one priority, but then working forward, getting non-essential retail open as well and then, in due course, as and when we can prudently, cautiously, of course we want to be opening hospitality as well.
"I will be trying to set out as much as I possibly can in as much detail as I can, always understanding that we have to be wary of the pattern of disease.
"We don't want to be forced into any kind of retreat or reverse ferret."
He echoed Health Secretary Matt Hancock who earlier said the country could live with the virus as it did with flu by the end of the year and make it a treatable disease.
"I do think that in due time, it will become something that we simply live with some people more vulnerable than others, that's inevitable," Mr Johnson said.
If the R number, which fell below one on Friday for the first time since July, remains low and Covid infections stay at an “acceptable level”, the PM is expected to green light non-essential shops to reopen towards the end of March.
There will then be "another short wait" until hospitality businesses and pubs open.
The Sun revealed on Friday that pubs and restaurants may be able to serve outdoors in April if Covid cases continue to fall.
A government source said: "We will hopefully be sipping pints in the spring sunshine sooner rather than later."
Boris Johnson says 'he's optimistic' about lifting lockdown and shops and pubs will be prioritised after schools