Highlights from the UK government’s press briefings

11th May 2021

Today, in the House of Lords, Her Majesty the Queen delivered the government’s legislative programme in the Queen’s Speech of 2021. Below are key highlights from the speech that are relevant to the sector:

Business Rates Measures:

  • Eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors in England will benefit from business rates relief worth over £6 billion in 2021-22. This includes a three-month extension of the current 100 per cent business rates holiday from 1 April 2021 to 30 June 2021. This will be followed by 66 per cent relief for the period 1 July 2021 to 31 March 2022 for eligible properties, with a cap of £2 million for businesses that were required to close on 5 January 2020, and up to £105,000 relief for businesses that were permitted to open
  • The Government has also announced a new £1.5 billion relief fund to be awarded to non-retail, hospitality and leisure properties most affected by COVID-19. The relief, which will be awarded by Local Authorities on a discretionary basis, will ensure support is available to those not within scope of the £16 billion of support already announced for eligible properties in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors
  • To further support businesses, the Government has also decided to freeze the business rates multiplier in 2021-22, saving businesses in England an estimated £575 million over the next five years


10th May 2021

This evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered a press conference where he confirmed that England would continue onto the next step on the roadmap to easing lockdown restrictions.

Below are the key highlights from the UK Government’s press briefing:

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that the four tests for the further easing of lockdown restrictions have now been reached and that England will be moving to step 3 from Monday 17 May
  • From next Monday, indoor hospitality can reopen, and indoor entertainment can resume
  • Up to 6 people will be able to meet indoors and up to 30 people outdoors
  • The Prime Minister noted that over 35 million have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with almost 18 million having received two doses
  • Johnson noted that hospitalisations and deaths from COVID-19 were now at their lowest levels since July 2020
  • The Prime Minister added that there would be details published at the end of May about the role of social distancing
  • Regarding the next step of the roadmap, the Prime Minister said that England remains on track to move to step 4 on 21 June


5th April 2021

This evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered a press conference to determine whether England would be proceeding with its roadmap out of lockdown.

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that, from Monday 12 April, the government will move to Step Two of its roadmap in England
  • Moving to Step Two will allow for the opening of non-essential retail, gyms, zoos, personal care services (such as hairdressers), campsites, beer gardens and all kinds of hospitality
  • Johnson noted that the ‘early thinking’ on the government’s four Roadmap Reviews is now published on Gov.uk.
  • The Social Distancing Review is exploring whether existing rules, designed to limit virus transmission, could be relaxed in different settings
    • The review is looking at key baseline measures, including how and when to safely limit or amend the 1m+ rule, as well as guidance on working from home
    • The UK Government has noted that the conclusion of this review will depend on the latest data and evidence on the state of the pandemic and the impact of vaccine effectiveness, as the country progresses through the roadmap
  • Johnson stated that he was “hopeful” that international travel could go ahead from 17 May and that the Global Travel Taskforce will report later this week
  • Prime Minister Johnson noted that the government sees nothing in the present data that makes it think that it will have to deviate from the current roadmap out of lockdown restrictions
  • As of 5 April 2021, 60% of the adult population have had their first dose of the vaccine
  • Today, the UK recorded 26 new deaths and 2,762 new cases of COVID-19
  • As of 5 April, 31,581,623 people have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with 5,432,126 having received a second dose


23rd March 2021

This evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivered a press conference to mark the first anniversary since the UK entered into its first national lockdown. 

Below are the highlights from the UK Government’s press briefing:

  • Prime Minister Johnson announced plans to build a permanent memorial for the victims of COVID-19
  • Johnson thanked all those involved in the vaccination rollout and added that the UK remains on track to meet its vaccination targets
  • Johnson noted that the UK would have offered a first vaccine dose to every adult by the end of July 2021
  • Johnson said that he hopes to announce more on global travel rules on 5 April
  • Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, announced that the decline in the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 had flattened, and the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 continued to fall
  • Today, the UK recorded 112 new deaths and 5,379 new cases of COVID-19
  • As of 22 March, 28,327,873 people have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with 2,363,684 having received a second dose


22nd February 2021

Today, in the House of Commons, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a four-step roadmap to ease restrictions across England. You can read the full roadmap here.

Below are the key highlights from this announcement:

  • Johnson outlined four steps for easing the lockdown restrictions. Before proceeding to the next ‘Step’ of the plan, the government will examine data to assess the previous ‘Step’s’ impact. This assessment will be subject to four tests:
  1. The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully
  2. Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated
  3. Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS
  4. The government’s assessment of the risks is not “fundamentally changed” by new variants of COVID-19
  • Johnson noted that there would be a minimum of five weeks between each ‘Step’:
    • Step 1, part 1: From 8 March: As before, people can leave home for work if they cannot work from home and to escape illness, injury or risk of harm, including domestic abuse.
    • Step 1, part 2: From 29 March
    • Step 2: At least five weeks after Step 1, and no earlier than 12 April: People should continue to work from home where they can, minimise domestic travel where they can.
    • Step 3: No earlier than 17 May: The government will continue to advise the public to work from home where they can
    • Ahead of Step 4, as more is understood about the impact of vaccines on transmission and a far greater proportion of the population has been vaccinated, the government will complete a review of social distancing measures and other long-term measures that have been put in place to limit transmission. The results of the review will help inform decisions on the timing and circumstances under which rules on 1m+, face masks and other measures may be lifted. The review will also inform guidance on working from home – people should continue to work from home where they can until this review is complete.
    • Step 4: No earlier than 21 June
  • Johnson added that four reviews would be set up:
    • Assessment of how long social distancing would need to be retained and how long working from home would have to remain in place
    • An assessment looking at the resumption of international travel
    • A review looking at COVID-status certification. Johnson stated that this would be mindful of concerns regarding exclusion, discrimination, and privacy
    • A review looking at the potential for a safe return of major events
  • The government’s offer of free test kits to workplaces for staff who cannot work at home will be extended to until the end of June. Organisations, including those yet to open, will need to register interest before 31 March. The government will keep this under review as vaccine deployment continues and will investigate how testing could be used to support the recovery.
  • The government’s roadmap mentions that businesses must also continue to take necessary precautions as restrictions ease. The overwhelming majority of the businesses that remained open during the pandemic did so in a COVID-Secure way. The government will update COVID Secure guidance to provide further advice on how businesses can improve fresh air flow in indoor workplaces and introduce regular testing to reduce risk. Local authorities will also continue to offer advice.
  • On vaccines:
    • Across the UK, over 17.5 million people have been vaccinated
    • In England, everyone in the top four priority groups was offered a vaccine by the middle of February
    • Johnson added that the Government will aim to offer a first dose of vaccines to all those in groups 5 to 9 by 15 April
    • Johnson also announced a target of offering the first dose to every adult by the end of July
  • Due to infection rates being relatively similar across England, the government is planning to ease restrictions at the same time across the country.