Boris Johnson reveals when we can legally start having sex and going to nightclubs again
Queer people in England could be dancing in nightclubs, hugging friends and having sex with people outside their household by June 2021, Boris Johnson announced Monday (22 February).
In the upshot of a dire surge in cases that surpassed the first wave, contagious new variants and hospitals flooded by patients, a sombre prime minister outlined his long-awaited lockdown exit plan to parliament.
In a four-step roadmap stretched across at least four months, Britain will see a series of cautiously phased re-openings and eased restrictions – as long as strict conditions are met.
Daily life for most may not change for some time, with pubs, gyms and non-essential retailers closed for at least another month.
Yet, in a date which only weeks ago seemed like a distant dream, all measures crucial to curtailing the spread of the coronavirus may be fully scrapped by 21 June.
The fourth and final step will see “no legal limits on social contact” [read: sex], the un-shuttering of nightclubs as well as large-scale events and no caps on “life events”, such as weddings.
“We’re setting out on what I hope is a one-way journey to freedom,” Johnson told the House of Commons, according to the BBC.
The announcement comes ahead of Johnson’s televised press conference scheduled for 7pm on Monday.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will each have their own approaches to ending lockdown measures.
What’s in Boris Johnson’s lockdown roadmap?
Beginning in March, each step will be spaced five weeks apart, giving decision-makers ample opportunity to analyse infection caseloads.
It will, above all, be led by “data, not dates”, the Conservative Party leader warned.
The government’s projected timetable begins on 8 March, which will see schools reopened and stay-at-home orders still in effect. Baby steps, Johnson stressed, with up to six people being able to socialise outdoors by 29 March.
Step two will see non-essential shops, hairdressers, gyms and outdoor hospitality reopen no earlier than 12 April. People will be able to eat and drink outside in pub and restaurant gardens in small groups.
Pubs and bars will not be allowed to offer indoor service until 17 May, the third step, where social contact regulations are loosened. Domestic overnight stays, for example, will be allowed, as well as limited mixing indoors.
Johnson vastly credited Britain’s remarkable vaccine rollout – giving some 17 million citizens the first jab – as paving the way for a pathway to normalcy.
The scene of nightclub speakers blasting Chromatica and Grindr notifications pinging hinges on four factors, Johnson said: The continued success of the vaccine roll-out; no new variant risks; no new surges that would weather the NHS and an overall reduction in COVID-19 deaths.
For LGBT+ nightclub and bar owners exhausted by months of shuttered businesses and oddly specific re-opening requirements, a likely sense of relief.
Many queer businesses owners have expressed frustration at the government’s fits-and-bursts strategy to loosening previous lockdowns, with G-A-Y club chain Jeremy Joseph even revealing that the third lockdown has thrown his businesses into “serious trouble”.