Britain has been in strict lockdown since January 5, with the Prime Minister reverting to the ‘stay at home’ message of March 2020 due to the rising number of Covid cases across the country. He announced this lockdown with the caveat that it would be, hopefully, the last difficult period with the end in sight thanks vaccine programmes rolling out nationwide.
On February 22, the PM set out what he called “a one-way road to freedom” in a four-stage roadmap out of lockdown. He emphasised that the plan would be under constant review, led by data above dates, but that with 17.5 million vaccinations administered, it is realistic that the end of the final UK lockdown is in sight. This will lead us, he said, “cautiously but irreversibly towards regaining our freedoms.”
What are the four steps out of lockdown?
Step one will begin on 8 March, when schools will return and meetings with one person outside your household for outdoor recreations, such as a coffee on an outdoor bench, a picnic in the park, or exercise will be permitted. From 29 March, the so-called ‘rule of six‘ will return outdoors, meaning that two households can meet in outdoor public spaces or private gardens. From that date, we will no longer be legally required to stay at home.
Step two is projected for the 12 April at the earliest, when non-essential retail, self-care services such as hairdressers, and pubs and restaurants with outdoor areas will be able to open. In a long-awaited end to the scotch egg debate, those ordering alcohol will be able to do so without also ordering a substantial meal.
Step three will begin from 17 May at the earliest, when up to 30 people will be allowed to meet outside, and the rule of six will extend to indoor meetups. Restaurants and pubs will be permitted to reopen indoors, as well as theatres and concert halls.
Step four will take hold from 21 June at the earliest, when all legal limits on social contact, weddings and live events will be dissolved. Even night clubs and theatre performances will be able to resume, the PM has said.
When can events take place again?
Currently, we are still in the third national lockdown and must not leave or be outside of our homes except where there is a ‘reasonable excuse’. Some of these include work (in cases when it is unreasonable to do your job from home), volunteering and essential activities such as food shopping and for daily exercise.
Communal worship and life events fall under the ‘reasonable excuse’ category, but weddings, funerals and religious, belief-based or commemorative events linked to someone’s death are all subject to limits on the numbers that can attend. Weddings and civil ceremonies may only take place in exceptional circumstances, and for a maximum of six people. Funerals may be attended by 30 people.
All non-essential shops, restaurants and bars must close and households must not mix indoors or outside, unless in a support bubble. Nightclubs unsurprisingly remain shut.
But things will begin to change from 8 March, when a small celebratory picnic will be possible outside with one person outside your household. Your party can grow in size from 29 March when the rule of six comes back for outdoor meetups. From 12 April, you’ll be able to meet up to six friends from two houses on a pub or restaurant terrace, but from 17 May a larger outdoor celebration of up to 30 people is possible – or an indoor meal under the rule of six. At that point, we can also expect private dining rooms to reopen for celebratory bookings.
Tentatively, from 21 June, celebrations can return to more normal than ever in the past year, with legal limits on social contact, weddings and live events dropped. Night clubs will be able to reopen and theatre performances to resume, meaning you’ll suddenly have a bounty of options.
In the interests of finding out exactly how we’ll be celebrating now and in the future, Luxury spoke to Jens Nisson, executive chef director of caterer Bubble Food (which is led by a Michelin-star-trained kitchen team and works with venues such as Cliveden House) and Johnny Roxburgh, party architect to the rich and famous, including the Queen, Prince William and Sting.
What will happen when we can all party together again?
Jens Nisson: The rule book will be rewritten, at least to start with. It’s going to take hard work and plenty of cooperation between party planners, operators and chefs to come up with ways of getting together and having fun within the rules. Technology will definitely play a part.