The prime minister has today outlined his roadmap out of lockdown, revealing the plan to MPs in the House of Commons this afternoon.
Boris Johnson confirmed that the easing of restrictions would happen in four stages.
This will begin, as has already been widely reported, with all schools in England reopening on March 8th.
From the same date, people will also be able to meet outdoors and socialise with one person for ‘recreation’ – for coffee or a picnic, for example.
Then from March 29th up to a maximum of six people – or two households – will be able to meet outside, with the ‘rule of six’ being reintroduced.
As well as that, from the 29th outdoor sports facilities will be able to reopen, allowing sports like football, tennis and golf to be played.
From this date, people will no longer be required to ‘stay at home’, although some restrictions will remain in place.
The next stage is expected to begin on April 12th as the lockdown easing continues in five-week intervals, with the whole process potentially stretching into June.
Hairdressers, beauty salons, and non-essential shops will reopen in stage two, which will happen on April 12th at the earliest.
Pubs, restaurants and bars will also open in this stage, but for outdoor service only, meaning you can be in a group of up to six people from two different households in an outdoor area like a beer garden.
Mr Johnson also confirmed the unpopular rules on ‘substantial meals’ with pints and the 10pm curfew will be scrapped, but you will have to be sat to consume your food or drink.
Gyms, libraries, zoos, museums and theme parks will also reopen in this stage, but you can only go to any indoor setting with members of your own household.
As for holidays, hotels, hostels, Airbnbs and self-catering holiday accommodation will also reopen but for household groups only.
Up to 30 people will be able to attend funerals, with the maximum number of people at a wake rising from six to 15.
Stage three will happen no earlier than May 17th, with gatherings of up to 30 people outside allowed, the ‘rule of six’ introduced inside, as well as large-scale sports events and performances returning.
This stage will see up to 30 people being able to meet outdoors, including in outside areas at pubs and restaurants, with indoor social mixing allowed again – but only up to six people or two households.
Indoor exercise classes will be able to resume from this stage, as well as large-scale sporting events or performances – with up to 1,000 people allowed indoors and up to 4,000 (or the venue being half full) allowed outside.
The bigger football stadiums will be able to allow up to 10,000 fans (or a quarter of capacity), while 30 people will be allowed to attend weddings, receptions, funerals, wakes and christenings.
Stage four will happen no earlier than June 21st, and will see all number limits on socialising removed, with the government hopeful nightclubs can reopen, and international travel could resume.
This will be the final step, with the prime minister saying he hopes this will be ‘irreversible’, and it will see the limit on the numbers of people that can mix indoors or outdoors removed.
All the dates are dependent on four tests being met, which are vaccination targets, the vaccine reducing hospitalisation and deaths, the pressure on the NHS, and new covid variants.
Any dates given are subject to these four tests being met.
Police restart search for Moors Murders victim Keith Bennett as skull found
The search for murder victim Keith Bennet has resumed as ‘potential human remains’ were found on moorland, police have confirmed.
The remains were found during an independent search on Saddleworth Moor by author Russell Edwards, who reported his discovery to Greater Manchester Police.
Detectives are said to be analysing a small sample of the remains and some clothing, the MailOnline reports.
Twelve year old Bennett was one of the five children tortured and killed by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley in the 1960s. His body has never been recovered.
GMP said in a statement: “We have always said that GMP would act on any significant information which may lead to the recovery of Keith and reunite him with his family.
“Officers met with Mr. Edwards yesterday evening (September 29th), and he was able to locate a site of interest and provide us with further details of the work he has been carrying out.
“We are at the very early stages of assessing the evidence which he brought to our attention, but have taken the decision to excavate an area of land with a view to determining what lies there.
“It is far too early to be certain whether human remains have been uncovered, but out of respect for Alan Bennett, who we regularly maintain contact with, we have informed him of this potential development.
“Alan does not wish to be disturbed at this time and we would ask that his request for privacy is respected.”
Bennett was lured into a van by Hindley on June 16th, 1964. He was then taken to Saddleworth Moor, where he was sexually abused and murdered by Brady.
Despite his heartbroken mother’s pleas, neither Brady nor Hindley ever revealed where they had buried his body.
Winnie Johnson continued visiting Saddleworth Moor to search for her son until her death in 2012.
Cause of Queen Elizabeth’s death revealed
Queen Elizabeth’s exact cause of death has been revealed as an extract of her death certificate is released to the public.
The Registrar General for Scotland, Paul Lowe, confirmed that Her Majesty The Queen’s death was registered in Aberdeenshire on September 16th, and that the cause of her death was old age.
The document, released by National Records of Scotland, notes the Queen died at 3.10pm on Thursday September 8th.
The Queen’s only daughter Princess Anne is named as the ‘informant’ on the document, and would have notified the local registrar of her mother’s death.
Anne, who accompanied her mother’s coffin as it travelled from Balmoral to London via Edinburgh, was with the head of state in her last moments.
She said: “I was fortunate to share the last twenty-four hours of my dearest mother’s life.”
Queen Elizabeth was laid to rest on September 19th following a historic seventy-year reign on the throne.
Her Majesty spent four days lying-in-state at Westminster Hall ahead of the state funeral, where around 250,000 Royal well-wishers came to pay their respects and say a final goodbye.
Royal Mail to strike for 19 days with Black Friday and Christmas deliveries affected
Strike action will take place across October and November
Black Friday and Christmas deliveries face delays as Royal Mail workers prepare to strike across the next two months.
The Communication Workers Union announced that action in October and November will be a mixture of ‘single days and rolling action’ across Royal Mail Group’s network.
This includes walkouts from 4am on October 13th for twenty-four hours, and then again on October 20th and 25th, as well as November 28th.
The union said the strike action will have a ‘dramatic impact’ on deliveries, and will cover peak mail periods such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the Christmas build-up.
It could also impact Amazon’s second Prime Day, with sale dates for subscribers on October 11th and 12th.
The CWU says the strike action comes following an ‘outrageous’ decision made by the Royal Mail Group’s senior management to withdraw from major national agreements, push ahead with cuts to workers’ terms and conditions and ‘completely sideline’ the union.
General secretary Dave Ward said: “This is a significant announcement, but it is one which matches the level of anger our members feel at the way Royal Mail Group has treated them.
“The chief executive of Royal Mail Group is treating postal workers as if they are stupid. These are the same people that have kept the country connected and returned Royal Mail Group to record profit.
“Postal workers across the UK now face the fight of their lives to save their jobs and the service they provide to every household and business in the UK.”
Ward went on to urge everyone to ‘stand with their local postal worker’, adding: “If Royal Mail Group are allowed to get away with this then it sends a green light to every rogue big business in the UK.
“We will not stand by and see the Royal Mail Group become the next P&O but we need your backing to win.”
However, the Royal Mail says changes are needed as it is currently losing £1million a day. A spokesperson said: “On September 22nd, Royal Mail invited CWU to enter into talks through Acas to find a resolution to our dispute on change and pay.
“This evening, rather than responding to our offer of Acas talks, the CWU announced further damaging industrial action, once again taking the path of prolonging disruption over resolution.
“Royal Mail is losing £1 million a day and must change faster in response to changing customer demands. We operate in a competitive market, and our customers have choices… Further strikes and resistance to transformation by CWU will only make our financial position worse, and threatens the long-term job security of our postmen and women.
“The CWU has a responsibility to recognise the reality of the situation Royal Mail faces as a business and engage urgently on the changes required.
“We apologise to our customers for the inconvenience the CWU’s continued strike action will cause. We are doing all we can to minimise any delays and keep people, businesses and the country connected.”