THE prime minister has revealed his roadmap to guide England out of lockdown restrictions and back to normality.
Boris Johnson announced his four-stage plan which could see restrictions finally lifted by June 21.
In the first phase, all pupils in England’s schools are expected to return to class from March 8.
Socialising in parks and public spaces with one other person will also be permitted from that date.
A further easing of restrictions will take place on March 29 when the school Easter holidays begin – with larger groups of up to six people or two households allowed to gather in parks and gardens.
On April 12, non-essential shops, hairdressers and beer gardens can reopen. From May 17, two households or groups of six can meet indoors and limited crowds will be allowed at sporting events, and on June 21, all remaining social contact restrictions could be lifted, and nightclubs could finally reopen.
The easing of measures are to be data driven, with Mr Johnson coining the slogan “data not dates”.
Reacting to the announcement, a spokesperson for Aspirations Academies Trust, which currently runs three academies Bournemouth and Poole (Jewell, Ocean and Magna), said: “Our schools have a robust hand and respiratory hygiene system in place that complies with government guidelines and will allow lessons to resume in classrooms safely.
“Social distancing will continue in our schools to help keep our staff and students safe.
“We are awaiting further guidance from the government about reopening our schools to all students but plans are underway to ensure we adhere to all the guidelines that will be issued.
“We very much look forward to our students returning to school.”
However, businesses have called for more support as they could be waiting three months to reopen.
Tony Brown, chief executive of New Start 2020 – the company which last year reopened Beales in Poole – called the announcement “catastrophic” for independent retailers.
The April 12 date pencilled in for opening retail would be after the Easter bank holiday and at the end of the school break.
“They destroyed Christmas by closing us all down in November and gave Christmas to the so-called essential retailers,” he said.
“Now they’re giving Easter to the garden centres that are practically department stores anyway, they’re giving Easter to the Range, Wilko, B&M, and everybody else has to suffer.
“How are we meant to survive on £2,000 a month as a grant? Places like the Dolphin Centre still charge closed retailers the service charge and they’re still charged rent.
“It’s beyond disappointing to have to wait another two months.
“To keep us closed until mid-April, after Easter, is a devastating blow to independent retailers.”
Brewhouse & Kitchen chief executive, Kris Gumbrell, added: “We have got to see more meaningful financial support and at local and national level we are going to need a big incentive to kickstart the sector. But at least we have certainty.”
On there being no curfew or substantial meal rule, Mr Gumbrell said: “Common sense has prevailed on that front.
“The prime minister has listened to the science and realised those two things made no difference.
“We welcome the certainty but May 17 is a long way away. There has to be more gas in the tank.
“There is a huge amount of work to be done. My team wants to get back to work, customers want to get back so I will take what I can get.
“It is not good news or bad news, it’s news, at least we can now plan.”