Published: 17:21, 05 April 2021
| Updated: 18:16, 05 April 2021
Pubs, shops, hairdressers and gyms will all be able to reopen next week, Boris Johnson has announced.
The Prime Minister revealed during a Downing Street briefing this afternoon that the Government will go ahead as planned with the next step of its roadmap out of lockdown.
This means that from April 12 non-essential retailers, indoor leisure facilities and hairdressers will be allowed to reopened, while restaurants and boozers will also be able to serve punters outside.
During his address to the nation, Mr Johnson stated that case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths have fallen to a low enough level for the country to press ahead with its planned unlocking.
The Tory leader said: "It's your collective efforts that have given us the crucial time and space to vaccinate more than 31 million people.
"The net result of your efforts and the vaccine rollout is that I can confirm from Monday, April 12, we will move to step two of our roadmap.
"Shops, gyms, zoos, public campsites, personal care services and beer gardens and outdoor hospitality will reopen.
"On Monday, I will be going to the pub myself and, cautiously but irreversibly, raising a pint to my lips."
Pubs and restaurants will have to continue to observe social distancing rules, with groups limited to a maximum of six per table.
Mr Johnson confirmed that vaccine passports will not be required to enter premises next Monday.
He suggested MPs will be given a say on the passes - but stressed "we're a way off enacting anything of the kind for anybody".
Brits desperate for a getaway will also be buoyed by the announcement that staycations will also be allowed to take place from next week in self-contained accommodation, such as holiday lets.
"We are also raising the number of visitors to care homes from one to two to allow residents to see more of their loved ones," Mr Johnson continued.
"We think these changes are fully justified by the data - but we can't be complacent.
"We have seen the waves of sickness afflicting other countries and we've seen how this story goes.
"We still don't know how strong the vaccine shield will be when cases begin to rise, as I'm afraid they will."
Mr Johnson insisted he is "hopeful" international travel will resume on May 17, but added that he did not want "to underestimate the difficulties we're seeing in some of the destination countries".
Government data published today shows that Covid cases have fallen in the seven days up to March 31 by almost a third across Kent to 393.
Every district across the county has also seen a fall in new infections.
Chief medical officer Chris Whitty said: "Looking at the data in the people who have been vaccinated in the UK, we've found a significant fall in the number of people with symptomatic disease.
"For hospitalisations from severe disease, there's around an 80% reduction from the first dose.
"We will have significant problems from Covid for the foreseeable future, and I don't think we should pretend otherwise."