Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation on 16 March 2020 regarding the outbreak of Covid-19.
In a televised statement, he said: “Now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact and travel.”
Life as we knew it had completely changed from that moment, with the UK entering its first lockdown just a week later (23 March).
NationalWorld looks at the timeline of how the Covid pandemic and lockdowns evolved over the past three years - and where we are with the pandemic now.
Boris Johnson announces national lockdown
On 23 March 2020 the Prime Minister announced the first lockdown, ordering people to “stay at home.” These measures legally came into force three days later on 26 March.
Plan for lifting lockdown announced
On 30 April, Mr Johnson announced that we had passed the peak of the pandemic and on 10 May he made a conditional plan for lifting the lockdown, advising those who couldn’t work from home to return to offices.
On 1 June, a phased re-opening of schools began followed by non-essential shops in England on 15 June.
On 23 June, relaxing of restrictions were implemented including easing of the two metre social distance rule.
Local lockdowns begin
On 4 July, the UK’s first local lockdown came into force in Leicester as pubs and restaurants reopened in England.
On 3 August, the Eat Out to Help Out scheme began in the UK with theatres and bowling alleys opening again on 14 August.
‘Rule of six’ is implemented
By 14 September, the ‘rule of six’ was implemented and on 22 September, new restrictions were announced in England with a return to working from home and a 10pm curfew.
Second lockdown announced
The three-tier Covid restrictions system began on 14 October in England and on 31 October the Prime Minister announced another lockdown, coming into effect on Bonfire Night (5 November).
On 24 November, the Prime Minister announced that up to three households would be able to meet from 23 to 27 December and on 2 December the second lockdown ended, with a return of the three-tier system.
On 21 December, London and South East England were hit with Tier 4 stay at home restrictions with more areas included on Boxing Day.
Third lockdown announced
In the new year of 2021, a third national lockdown was announced on 6 January.
Hotel quarantine was implemented for travellers arriving in England on 15 February.
On 8 March, primary and secondary schools reopened in England with stay at home remaining in place.
Restrictions begin to lift
On 29 March, outdoor gatherings of six people or two households were allowed with sports facilities opening and people advised to stay local.
By 12 April, non-essential shops like hairdressers and libraries reopen, as well as gyms, restaurants and pubs - but only outdoors.
On 17 May, 30 people were allowed to mix outdoors with a rule of six or two households allowed for indoor gatherings.
Indoor pubs, cinemas and restaurants reopened, as well as up to 10,000 spectators able to attend football stadiums.
On 14 June, restrictions on weddings and funerals were abolished, and by 19 July most legal limits on social contact were removed in England and nightclubs reopened.
Plan B announced
On 14 September, Boris Johnson announced the winter strategy of Plan B, including face mask rules.
This was implemented on 8 December in England, following the spread of the Omicron variant.
On 10 December, face masks were compulsory in most indoor public venues and on 15 December the NHS Covid pass became mandatory in specific settings such as nightclubs.
Living with Covid strategy
Plan B came to an end on 27 January 2022 and on 21 February Boris Johnson unveiled England’s living with Covid strategy, seeing the end of all Covid regulations including those that mandated lockdown and required people to self isolate if they tested positive.
Where is the UK at with the pandemic in 2023?
On the third anniversary of the UK's first lockdown, NHS England revealed it has now treated more than one million Covid patients since the pandemic began.
But chief strategy officer Chris Hopson has warned that "while we are in a very different situation today than we were three years ago, thanks largely to the speed and success of the NHS Covid vaccination programme, we know the virus still poses risks".
It is thought that about one in twenty people in the UK are currently infected with Covid, and there have now been more than 200,000 deaths with coronavirus recorded on the related death certificate.
Mr Hopson also told Sky News that “lots of the country has gone back to normal, but we in the NHS haven’t gone back to normal, we are still dealing with the consequences of the pandemic”.
“If you’ve got Covid, we can’t operate on you because of infection risk,” he added. “We also have our staff coming down with Covid... Thanks to the vaccine, Covid isn’t as deadly as it once was, but the operational consequences are still enormous.”
The NHS is rolling out its spring booster shot campaign for 2023 on April 17, which will see everyone aged 75 and over, those in care homes, and immunosuppressed people offered a fresh dose of Covid-19 vaccine. Eligible individuals will be offered the vaccine around 6 months after their previous dose
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