Timeline of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions in the UK

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to tell MPs how lockdown measures will begin to be eased in England from March.

Here is a look back at the restrictions which have been introduced and relaxed since the beginning of the pandemic.

– March 12, 2020

 Scores of major sporting and cultural events are suspended, along with local elections, as the UK’s coronavirus death toll rises to 11.

Boris Johnson
Prime Minister Boris Johnson addresses the nation from 10 Downing Street (PA)

It is announced that schools across the UK will close to all pupils except those of key workers, as the coronavirus death toll climbs to 104.

– March 20

Mr Johnson orders pubs and restaurants across the country to close, with cinemas, nightclubs, theatres, gyms and leisure centres also told to shut their doors.

– March 23

Announcing the first lockdown, Mr Johnson tells the UK public that they will only be allowed to leave their homes for limited reasons, including food shopping, exercise once per day, medical need and travelling for work when absolutely necessary.

All shops selling non-essential goods are told to close, gatherings of more than two people in public are banned, events including weddings – but excluding funerals – are cancelled.

– April 16

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announces that lockdown measures will be extended for at least three more weeks.

Prime Minister’s Questions
MPs social distancing as Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab speaks during Prime Minister’s Questions (House of Commons/PA)

Mr Johnson tells people they are allowed to sunbathe in parks and leave the house to exercise more than once a day.

– May 11

Garden centres can reopen and people will be allowed outdoors for unlimited exercise for pursuits such as tennis, golf, lawn bowls and basketball.

– May 30

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announces that elite sport events will begin behind closed doors from June 1.

Coronavirus – Wed Dec 30, 2020
Deputy chief medical officer for England Jonathan Van-Tam has been a regular presence at Downing Street press conferences (Heathcliff O’Malley/Daily Telegraph/PA)

Lockdown measures are eased, with schoolchildren in England in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 returning to the classroom.

– June 15

England’s retail parks, high streets and shopping centres welcome customers, while zoos and safari parks open their doors for the first time since March.

Places of worship reopen for private prayer, while some secondary school pupils have begun returning to their classrooms.

– June 29

A local lockdown is imposed on Leicester by Health Secretary Matt Hancock following a spike of coronavirus cases in the city.

The rest of England moves to ease restrictions on places of social gathering such as pubs and restaurants from July 4.

Leicester shop window
A sign in a shop window in Leicester (Joe Giddens/PA)

Pints are poured in pubs and couples finally say “I do” as lockdown restrictions are eased across England.

– July 13

Beauty salons, nail bars and tattoo shops in England welcome customers for the first time in four months following the relaxation of social distancing measures.

– July 16

Mr Hancock announces a partial lifting of lockdown measures in Leicester, but restrictions on non-essential travel and social gatherings of up to six people remain in force.

– July 17

Mr Johnson eases the work-from-home guidance.

Face coverings have become a familiar sight
Face coverings have become a familiar sight across the world (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

People from different households in Greater Manchester, parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire are banned from meeting each other inside their homes or in gardens following a spike in cases.

– July 31

Measures due to be lifted on August 1, including allowing small wedding receptions, reopening bowling alleys and casinos, and pilots of larger gatherings in sports venues, are delayed for at least two weeks.

Testing centre
A testing centre at Bradford University in West Yorkshire (Danny Lawson/PA)

The Prime Minister prepares to announce new restrictions including a 10pm curfew on pubs, bars and restaurants in England from September 24.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove recommends that people now work from home if able to do so.

– October 12

The Prime Minister launches a three-tier system of local lockdown levels for England.

– November 5

People in England are told to stay at home for four weeks as the country is placed under another national lockdown, with the closure of hospitality and non-essential shops.

– December 2

England’s national lockdown comes to an end and is replaced by a strengthened three-tier system.

– December 17

Mr Hancock announces Tier 3 restrictions – the highest level of measures – for several local authority areas from December 19, affecting about 38 million people.

Coronavirus – Mon Feb 15, 2021
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Prime Minister cancels Christmas for people across London and eastern and south-east England by moving them into a newly created Tier 4 for two weeks – effectively returning to the lockdown rules of November.

In the rest of England, the planned Christmas easing of the restrictions – allowing three households to meet over the festive period – is severely curtailed to apply to Christmas Day only.

The move is mirrored by the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford announces alert Level 4 restrictions will be brought forward to apply across the nation from midnight, with non-essential retail, close contact services, gyms and leisure centres and hospitality closing.

Mark Drakeford
First Minister Mark Drakeford (Ben Birchall/PA)

Northern Ireland sees a form of curfew introduced from 8pm, with shops closed from that time and all indoor and outdoor gatherings prohibited until 6am.

– December 30

It is announced that an additional 20 million people in England will move to the tightest restrictions, making a total of 44 million in Tier 4, or 78% of the population.

– January 4, 2021

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announces Scotland will go into lockdown for the rest of January, with a legal requirement to stay at home and schools closed to most pupils until February.

Mr Johnson announces a third national lockdown for England, which will see schools shut to most students and people urged to stay at home to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed by surging coronavirus infections.

Coronavirus shop closure
Lockdown restrictions in England are due to be eased from March 8 (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Mr Johnson is due to tell MPs that all pupils in all years can go back to the classroom from March 8, with outdoor after-school sports and activities allowed to restart as well.

Socialising in parks and public spaces with one other person will also be permitted from that date, to allow people to sit down for a drink or picnic.

From March 29, more social contact is expected to be permitted, with outdoor gatherings allowed either under the rule of six or between two households.

Meanwhile in Wales, children aged three to seven will begin a phased return to school from February 22, while some vocational learners on courses that require practical learning will return to college.

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