THE current lockdown message of ‘stay home’ is changing to ‘stay local’ on 29 March – but what does that mean?
As the country eases out of lockdown following prime minister Boris Johnson’s four-stage ‘roadmap’ announcement, the current ‘stay home’ messaging will be changing.
‘Stay local’ is expected to be the new message rolled out from 29 March, just before the Easter bank holiday weekend on April 4.
From 29 March people will be allowed to meet outside, either with one other household or within the ‘rule of six’, including in private gardens.
However, Councillor Brian Taylor, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, cautioned residents to remain vigilant about the virus and to be considerate of the safety of other people.
He said: “Obviously the advice would be for people to follow the rules, because as we’ve seen there have been many people who have not been.
“Local is clearly open to interpretation, but to me local means can I walk there?”
Darwen Tower is a popular local beauty spot
He added: “We’ve got lots of green spaces and beauty spots here in our own borough, its also hugely important to people’s mental health to have access to these spaces, so my advice would be for people to make use of them within your own borough.”
Will we be allowed to celebrate Easter with our family?
Rules are set to ease somewhat around Easter
As far as current guidelines are concerned and as long as we enter the next stage provided all tests are met, then yes we will be able to celebrate Easter with our family.
Celebrations and meet-ups outside with loved ones either with one other household or within the “rule of six”, including in private gardens.
This means that you should be allowed to get together with family and friends locally over the bank holiday weekend.
Will we have to follow social distancing measures and can we hug?
Unfortunately as it stands you will not be able to hug anyone who doesn’t live in your household.
Social distancing measures must still be maintained and you have to avoid touching.
If you can’t stay 2 metres away, you can stay ‘1 metre plus’ apart – the ‘plus’ means doing something else to limit exposure where possible, like wearing a face covering.
Can we travel out of Lancashire to visit loved ones?
We are still waiting for clarification from the central government regarding their ‘stay local’ message and what constitutes as ‘local’.
However, the government website states that people should continue to work from home where they can and minimise the number of journeys they make where possible, avoiding travel at the busiest times and routes.
The current guidelines state that when meeting another person this should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel a short distance within your area to do so if necessary.
Councillor Taylor said: “It is safer for people outside in the fresh air so we would encourage people to meet in the fresh air rather than indoors.”
He added: “When you do travel though I would ask people to keep local residents who live near our beauty spots and green spaces in mind when parking, because we’ve had a lot of issues with people parking irresponsibly.”
Can people visit from outside of Lancashire?
People are advised to remain in their own boroughs over the Easter period, where once again Councillor Taylor reminded residents that ‘local’ should be considered as within walking distance.
Police will be publishing further advice in due course.
Can I book a holiday abroad for Easter?
The government currently states that foreign travel will continue to be prohibited throughout spring, other than for a small number of permitted reasons.
Holidays abroad will not be allowed, given it will remain important to manage the risk of imported variants and protect the vaccination programme.
The government has launched a new taskforce to review global travel which will report on 12 April.
How likely is all this to happen?
When the PM Boris Johnson announced the roadmap out of the third national lockdown, he said that easing of rules would be done in stages.
He provided the dates in which rules would be relaxed at the earliest as he said it depended on the country meeting four tests.
Those are the Covid vaccine roll-out, the vaccine’s effectiveness on reducing hospitalisations and deaths, infection rates and whether they are likely to surge which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS, and emerging variants of the virus.
Currently, there has been no suggestion that the further easing of lockdown measures will not go ahead as planned.