Hotels could open for staycations by Easter Bank Holiday if R rate stays low enough as lockdown is eased

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HOTELS could open for staycations when lockdown is eased in a boost for fed-up Brits wanting a holiday.

Under Boris Johnson's road map for lifting Covid restrictions, the hospitality industry could open its doors again from the Easter weekend.

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Brits could enjoy a staycation this year

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Brits could enjoy a staycation this year

This would include hotels meaning Brits would at least be able to enjoy a holiday in England while international travel is likely to still be on hold.

But the plans would only happen if the crucial R-rate remains low up to April 2.

The PM is set to announce how he will ease the nation out of lockdown on February 22.

He is expected to axe the hated tier system and has vowed to prioritise the reopening of schools no sooner than March 8.

Boris is to axe the tier system and 'wants to open all schools in "big bang" road map plan'

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Boris is to axe the tier system and 'wants to open all schools in "big bang" road map plan'Credit: Reuters

Speaking during a visit today to the Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies plant in Billingham, Teesside, where the new Novavax vaccine will be manufactured, 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 remained opening schools in England on March 8 to be followed by non-essential retail and then hospitality venues.

He 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."

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, according to the i newspaper who cited a senior government official.

It comes after Professor Neil Ferguson, an Government scientific adviser, said yesterday that restrictions could be eased in stages every 3 weeks.

Here's what could happen in Boris' roadmap:

Hotels

Hospitality businesses including hotels could open their doors again in England from the Easter weekend if the R rate remains low up to April 2.

It would mean the return of the staycation - although international travel would still likely be on hold.

Tier system to be axed

Boris Johnson is said to have been persuaded to axe the tier system, which many experts believe did little to prevent the spread of the virus, especially the Kent variant.

“The Government would like to do away with the tier system entirely,” a senior Government official told the i.

“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.”

The PM has vowed to prioritise the reopening of schools no sooner than March 8

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The PM has vowed to prioritise the reopening of schools no sooner than March 8Credit: Alamy Live News

Schools

Boris has insisted schools will be the first to reopen as measures start to ease and has promised to give the sector two weeks’ notice for kids to get back to class.

It was previously assumed age groups would be staggered for their return, but the PM is now said to be considering a “big bang” approach where all pupils go back at the same time.

It is feared, however, the March 8 start date could be pushed back until infection rates are low enough across the board.

Pubs

Pubs and restaurants may be able to serve outdoors in April if Covid cases continue to fall, The Sun revealed on Friday.

A government source said: “We will hopefully be sipping pints in the spring sunshine sooner rather than later.”

Pubs and restaurants may be able to serve outdoors in April if Covid cases continue to fall

Pubs and restaurants may be able to serve outdoors in April if Covid cases continue to fall

A government source said we may be enjoying a pint in the pub by Easter

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A government source said we may be enjoying a pint in the pub by EasterCredit: Rick Findler

It comes after Boris Johnson told reporters at the start of the month that "going down the tiers in a national way, might be better this time round, given that the disease is behaving much more nationally".

He added: "If you look at the way the new variant has taken off across the country, it's a pretty national phenomenon."

Professor Neil Ferguson, whose warnings about the potential Covid death toll led to the first lockdown in March, agrees that brighter days are coming as the UK's daily infection and death toll continues to drop.

He said on Friday that Brits could be allowed to meet friends and loved ones indoors from May and lockdown measures could be eased every three weeks from March 8.

Professor Neil Ferguson said Brits could be allowed to meet loved ones in doors from May

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Professor Neil Ferguson said Brits could be allowed to meet loved ones in doors from MayCredit: PA:Press Association

He said areas with the lowest rates of Covid could go into Tier 1-style restrictions

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He said areas with the lowest rates of Covid could go into Tier 1-style restrictionsCredit: PA:Press Association

The expert, who is nicknamed Professor Lockdown and is on the Government advisory body Nervtag, said areas with the lowest rates of Covid could go into Tier 1-style restrictions by May.

And at the very least, he thinks the whole of England could be under Tier 2-like restrictions.

Under the lowest tier rules last year, a maximum of six people could meet indoors and outdoors, while pubs were open without punters needing to buy meals and non-essential shops could keep doors open.

In Tier 2, household mixing indoors was banned, but groups of six could meet outside. Pubs and bars were ordered to close unless they could serve food.

On February 22 the PM is to announce a "road map" plan to ease lockdown restrictions

On February 22 the PM is to announce a "road map" plan to ease lockdown restrictions

In an interview on a Politico podcast, Prof Ferguson said: "By May time, it's realistic to be in something akin to Tier 2.

"Maybe with areas of very low incidence by that time, we could move to Tier 1 type measures, completely relaxing and having something akin to where we were in August."

However, he cautioned that the road out of tough measures will be a "bumpy" and slow one - and it could be next year before all restrictions are finally gone.

He said restrictions could gradually be eased every three weeks after schools reopen on March 8 and that the Government unlocked Britain too quickly last year.

He said: "I'm much more comfortable with a strategy that implements one change, then watches what happens for 3 weeks, so we can see the effect of that change.

"Hopefully by May, we'll be in a place much more like October, rather than having ever intensified social distancing."

Some 14million Brits have now received at least one dose

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Some 14million Brits have now received at least one doseCredit: PA:Press Association

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Up to 90 per cent of over 50s must be vaccinated before society can begin its long return to normality, he said.

And every adult must have had the jab for life to go on as it was before.

The UK's vaccination roll-out continues apace with some 14million Brits having now received at least one dose.

Figures released on Friday revealed that 14,012,224 doses of the Pfizer and Oxford vaccines have been administered in the UK. 

But this total does not include the 503,116 jabs given out on Thursday.

And the UK is expected to smash its target of offering a jab to all 15million of the most vulnerable Brits before Monday - two days ahead of schedule.

Schools returning hinges on all four vulnerable groups being jabbed by February 15.

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Scientists said yesterday the official R rate is between 0.7 and 0.9 — the first time since last July that it has been below 1 nationwide.

Separate data found London’s could be as low as 0.44. Around 35 per cent of people living there have already had Covid, according to University of Cambridge research.

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UK Covid deaths also dropped by a quarter in a week. There were 758 more recorded yesterday — down from the 1,014 a week before.

Cases are also plummeting, with 15,144 recorded yesterday - a 20 per cent drop from the 19,114 infections last week.

It brought the number of positive cases to 4,013,799, while the fatality total now stands at 116,287.

Prof Neil Ferguson says England is on track to send primary school kids back on March 8

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