Published: 09:13, 16 February 2021
| Updated: 18:15, 16 February 2021
The 'stay at home' lockdown message is to be scrapped as the country opens up from next month, with outdoor sport among the first activities set to return, it has been reported.
But government scientists want to keep the 'one metre plus' social distancing rules for the foreseeable future in a move that will hit hospitality.
KMTV reports on the latest on lockdown restrictions
Rapid testing could be a solution to that problem and one which has been backed by Boris Johnson as an alternative to the controversial 'vaccine passport' approach.
The first steps in lockdown easing could come as soon as March 8 when ministers plan to overhaul the rules to allow socialising outside, MailOnline reports.
Then, possibly before the end of March, outdoor leisure activities will be permitted as data shows the transmission risk remains low.
At last night's Downing Street briefing, The Prime Minister said he wants 'this lockdown to be the last', although there is no 'cast iron guarantee',and promised to remove restrictions with caution.
Sky News reports one measure scientists hope will not be thrown out any time soon is the 'one metre plus' social distancing rule which was introduced last June.
It means the public can be one metre away from each other as long as other measures are put in place to limit the transmission of the virus.
In the coming days, Whitehall will debate over how long to keep the rule but some ministers are reluctant to show support as they fear keeping the measures could push some firms to bankruptcy.
Another measure which could be introduced is the need for a negative rapid coronavirus test result before being allowed into places such as theatres and nightclubs, reports The Times.
The Prime Minister talked up the possibility of using lateral flow tests to identify asymptomatic cases, saying it would be preferable to requiring people to prove they had been vaccinated.
He continued: “What we are thinking of at the moment is more of a route that relies on mass vaccination — we intend to vaccinate all the adults in the country by the autumn — plus lateral flow testing, rapid testing.
“I think that will be the route that we go down and that businesses will go down. You are already seeing lots of businesses using the potential of rapid, on-the-day testing as well. I think that, in combination with vaccination, will probably be the route forward.”
He said that speedy testing would help the theatre and nightclub industry which proved 'the toughest nuts to crack' when restrictions were lifted after the first lockdown.
Mr Johnson will announce a road map for the easing of restrictions next week.