2nd LD: PM announces "roadmap" exiting lockdown with schools in England reopening from March 8

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LONDON, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Monday that schools in England will reopen from March 8 as part of the "roadmap" to ease the current coronavirus lockdown.

As the first part of the "four-step" plan, children and young people of all ages will return to classroom learning in schools and colleges in England from March 8, Johnson told lawmakers in the House of Commons, lower house of the British parliament.

Secondary school pupils will be required to wear face coverings in classrooms and shared spaces like corridors, said Johnson.

Also from March 8, two people are allowed for recreation in an outdoor public spaces such as a park, which means they would be allowed to sit down for a coffee, drink or picnic, according to Johnson.

From March 29, either six people or two households will be allowed for outdoor gatherings, which is understood to include gatherings in private gardens. Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis or basketball courts will reopen, said Johnson.

In the second step, non-essential retail, hairdressers and public buildings like libraries and museums will reopen from April 12.

Meanwhile, outdoor settings like alcohol takeaways will be allowed and beer gardens, zoos and theme parks will reopen.

Indoor leisure like swimming pools and gyms will reopen but wider social contact rules will continue to apply in all settings, which means no indoor mixing between different households will be allowed, said Johnson.

In the third step, from May 17, the "rule of six" will be abolished for outdoor gatherings if the data allows and the gathering of up to 30 people will be permitted.

But indoors, only two households can mix with the rule of six still applied in hospitality settings like pubs, said Johnson.

Meanwhile, cinemas, hotels, performances and sporting events will reopen with rules of social distancing. Up to 10,000 spectators will be allowed into outdoor venues like football stadiums.

In the fourth step, from June 21, all legal social restrictions are expected to be removed, with the reopening of the final closed sectors of the economy including nightclubs, said Johnson.

England is currently under the third national lockdown since outbreak of the pandemic in the country. Similar restriction measures are also in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States have been racing against time to roll out coronavirus vaccines. Enditem

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