Date Added 25/02/2021
From 8 March, people in England will see restrictions start to lift and the governments four-step roadmap offer a route back to a more normal life.
The success of the vaccination programme is one factor - so far over 17 million people have had their jabs - but by no means the whole story. The public have also risen to the challenge of suppressing COVID-19: by obeying the law; staying at home; getting tested when needed; isolating when required, and following the hands, face, space and letting fresh air in guidance.
Taken together, this means that even though absolute case numbers remain relatively high, we will be able to begin relaxing the current strict lockdown. While we must all remain vigilant - in particular against the threat from new COVID-19 variants - and continue to protect the NHS, a safe exit from lockdown can begin. It will take place in four steps; and at each step, we plan to lift restrictions across the whole of England at the same time.
In implementing this plan we will be guided by data, not dates, so that we do not risk a surge in infections that would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS. For that reason, all the dates in the roadmap are indicative and subject to change. There will be a minimum of five weeks between each step: four weeks for the scientific data to reflect the changes in restrictions and to be analysed; followed by one weeks advance notice of the restrictions that will be eased.
Only when the government is sure that it is safe to move from one step to the next will the final decision be made. The decision will be based on four tests:
the vaccine deployment programme continues successfully
evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated
infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS
our assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new Variants of Concern
The government will continue to protect the public by ensuring local outbreaks are managed quickly and effectively and that we combat new dangerous variants, both within the UK and at the border. The government will also continue to support families and businesses throughout the steps set out in the roadmap - details of which will be set out by the Chancellor in the Budget on 3 March.
In Step 1, our priority is to ensure that all children and students return safely to face-to-face education in schools and colleges from 8 March. Childcare and childrens supervised activities can also resume where necessary to enable parents to work or engage in similar activities. We are introducing twice-weekly rapid testing for secondary and college pupils - in addition to regular testing for all teachers - to reduce the chance of the virus spreading in schools.
Higher Education students at English universities on practical courses can also return from 8 March.
People will be allowed to leave home for recreation and exercise outdoors with their household or support bubble, if they are eligible for one, or with one person from outside their household. Care home residents will also be allowed one regular visitor.
The evidence shows that it is safer for people to meet outdoors rather than indoors. And this is why from 29 March, when most schools start to break up for the Easter holidays, outdoor gatherings (including in private gardens) of either 6 people (the Rule of 6) or 2 households will also be allowed, making it easier for friends and families to meet outside.
Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts, and open-air swimming pools, will also be allowed to reopen, and people will be able to take part in formally organised outdoor sports.
The stay at home rule will end on 29 March but many restrictions will remain in place. 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. Travel abroad will continue to be prohibited, 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.
Step 2, which will be no earlier than 12 April, will see the opening of non-essential retail; personal care premises such as hairdressers and nail salons; and public buildings, including libraries and community centres. Indoor leisure facilities such as gyms will also reopen (but only for use by people on their own or in household groups); as will most outdoor attractions and settings including outdoor hospitality venues, zoos, theme parks, and drive-in cinemas. Self-contained accommodation such as campsites and holiday lets, where indoor facilities are not shared with other households, can also reopen.
Hospitality venues will be allowed to serve people outdoors at Step 2 and there will be no need for customers to order a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks and no curfew, although customers must order, eat and drink while seated (table service). Wider social contact rules will apply in all these settings to prevent indoor mixing between different households.
While funerals can continue with up to 30 mourners, the number of people able to attend weddings, receptions and commemorative events such as wakes will rise to 15.
As part of Step 3, no earlier than 17 May, the government will look to continue easing limits on seeing friends and family wherever possible, allowing people to decide on the appropriate level of risk for their circumstances.
This means that most legal restrictions on meeting others outdoors will be lifted - although gatherings of over 30 people will remain illegal. Indoors, the Rule of 6 or 2 households will apply - we will keep under review whether it is safe to increase this.
As soon as possible and by no later than Step 3, we will also update the advice on social distancing between friends and family, including hugging. But until this point, people should continue to keep their distance from anyone not in their household or support bubble.
Most businesses in all but the highest risk sectors will be able to reopen. In all sectors, COVID-Secure guidance will remain in place and businesses may not cater for groups bigger than the legal limits. Indoor hospitality will reopen - and as in Step 2, venues will not have to serve a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks; nor will there be a curfew. Customers will, however, have to order, eat and drink while seated.
Other indoor locations to open up in Step 3 include indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas and childrens play areas; the rest of the accommodation sector, including hotels, hostels and B&Bs; and indoor adult group sports and exercise classes. The government will also allow some larger performances and sporting events in indoor venues with a capacity of 1,000 people or half-full (whichever is a lower number), and in outdoor venues with a capacity of 4,000 people or half-full (whichever is a lower number). In the largest outdoor seated venues, where crowds can be spread out, up to 10,000 people will be able to attend (or a quarter-full, whichever is lower).
Up to 30 people will be able to attend weddings, receptions and wakes, as well as funerals. This limit will also apply to other types of significant life events including bar mitzvahs and christenings.
Finally, before Step 4 begins, the government will complete a review of social distancing and other long-term measures that have been put in place to cut transmission. This will inform decisions on the timing and circumstances under which the rules on 1 metre plus, the wearing of face coverings and other measures may be lifted. This will also inform guidance on working from home which should continue wherever possible until this review is complete.
By Step 4 which will take place no earlier than 21 June, the government hopes to be in a position to remove all legal limits on social contact.
We hope to reopen remaining premises, including nightclubs, and ease the restrictions on large events and performances that apply in Step 3. This will be subject to the results of a scientific Events Research Programme to test the outcome of certain pilot events through the spring and summer, where we will trial the use of testing and other techniques to cut the risk of infection. The same Events Research Programme will guide decisions on whether all limits can be removed on weddings and other life events.
As we move through each of these phases in the roadmap, we must all remember that COVID-19 remains a part of our lives. We are going to have to keep living our lives differently to keep ourselves and others safe. We must carry on with hands, face, space. Comply with the COVID-Secure measures that remain in place. Meet outdoors when we can and keep letting fresh air in. Get tested when needed. Get vaccinated when offered. If we all continue to play our part, we will be that bit closer to a future that is more familiar.
Covid-19 Update Following the 'Rule of 6' Government Update
Date Added 10/09/2020
Safe and Legal Travel - Within 'The Rule of Six'!
This statement is to reassure our customers that the Governments announcement on Wednesday 9th September about social gatherings being limited to six people, does NOT affect any coach hires, day excursions and holidays you have booked with us.
There are exemptions that cover what businesses such as ours are allowed to safely and legally offer, compared with informal and private events. Here is the important information from the guidance that applies to coach trips and group visits.
Businesses and venues following COVID-19 Secure guidelines can host larger groups. Premises or locations which are COVID-19 Secure will be able to hold more than 30 people, subject to their own capacity limits, although any individual groups should not interact with anyone outside of the group they are attending with.
To summarise, group events are permitted when professionally organised by businesses who have made risk assessments and put in place good practices for COVID safety. When booking our holidays and day excursions, you are seated in your own bubbles socially distanced from other passengers. For example, a single traveller will occupy a double seat and be asked to sit near the window. A couple or those in their family bubbles can sit together but will be socially distanced from other passengers. Coach hire organisers are being asked to do the same with their groups.
We are also asking for all passengers to wear a face covering and we are encouraging hand washing and sanitising at all stops.
We have COVID secure risk assessments and Safe Operating Procedures in place, as have the hotels and venues we are using too.
We hope this provides reassurance and helps you to understand the distinction between what is legally permitted privately and what is permitted within a business setting.
Date Added 23/06/2020
The government have today (Tuesday 23rd June) issued new guidelines that allow us to restart our excursions programme, albeit with precautions and limited passenger numbers on board. We want to ensure that while COVID:19 restrictions are in place you are still able to fully enjoy your day out with us.
Throughout this pandemic period, and in this transition as we return to normal operation, it is very important that we all follow some simple guidelines to protect our staff, our passengers and anyone else that we may come into contact with as we carry out our excursions.
We are committed to proactively reducing the spread of any disease and maintain the health of our staff and passengers. As such please ensure you and your fellow passengers follow this guide to help maintain the hygiene levels that we currently have in place to reduce the spread of any disease.
Comfort Stop and Coach Cleaning:
Our current enhanced cleaning procedure includes cleaning of all floors and seats, cleaning of all glass surfaces, mopping with disinfectant of all floor surfaces, disinfectant wiping of dash areas, driver controls and handles. It also includes cleaning all handrails, hand grabs, seat belt buckles, armrests and floors. It also includes vehicle anti-viral fogging every 30 days.
How do I protect myself and my fellow passengers?
The primary concern on board coaches is that of social distancing; passengers should keep their distance please from people outside their household, and we recognise that this is not always possible. The key thing is not to be too close to people for more than a short amount of time. When around another person the biggest risk of infection is people in close face to face positions.
We can provide assurance and mitigation of these concerns; our normal front facing seating arrangements avoids face to face proximity and the physical barrier of the high backed seats, plus the use of face coverings or masks will all help to ensure maximum mitigation of the dangers and maximum safety.
When you arrive at our premises, you will be directed to our secure car park. Toilet facilities will be available; please wash your hands of course - and maintain 1 metre social distancing whenever possible while using the facilities and while waiting to board.
You will be subject to a temperature check prior to boarding. It is generally accepted that 36.1C (97F) to 37.2C (99F) is the normal range for our bodies. Passengers with a high temperature will be requested not to travel, for the benefit of other passengers.
We would appreciate that you wear a face covering when boarding and during the journey, for your own comfort we advise that you provide your own face covering for the journey. The entrance/exit on the offside of the coach may also be used for boarding and disembarking where it is safe to do so.
You will be asked to board just a few minutes before your departure time, in order to minimise the time that passengers spend on the coach once boarded. Please try to maintain 1 metre social distancing wherever possible, as you gather and when approaching and speaking with our driver.
Our driver will wear protective gloves and will have anti-bacterial gel available. You will be requested to sanitise your hands prior to boarding. Again, please ensure you observe social distancing while waiting to board. Your seat number may change because ideally passengers will be seated on alternate seats on each row wherever possible. Please also note that the toilet on board the coach will only be available in emergency situations however, rest assured that on longer journeys extra comfort stops will be in place.
Seating plans are in place to maximise the need for social distancing, this may result in larger parties not be able to sit together. The front double seat immediately behind the driver is unfortunately not available for use.
As part of our drivers safety briefing he or she will advise that upon arrival at the destination he or she will be exiting first and that once he or she has left the vehicle then all passengers may safely disembark, starting from the front please continue to observe social distancing while waiting to disembark.
Our driver will drive with the roof vents open; a plentiful supply of fresh air helps to prevent the spread of germs. Our coach air-conditioning system will be fitted with the ECO3 air purifier which also help to provide clean, filtered air. For more information on this system please visit Masterpart Truck & Bus facebook page. He or she will also be wearing a face mask whilst driving.
Upon arrival at the destination, our driver will put the hazard warning lights on, disembark and ask you to alight. Obviously, he or she will maintain a helpful presence but will also observe self-distancing requirements. During your visit our driver will clean all touch points on the coach.
During your visit and prior to returning to the coach for the return journey, please wash your hands and also when boarding the coach - observe social distancing and use the hand gel that is supplied on board.
We are still currently covering rail replacement, essential travel for key workers, transporting key workers children to/from school, commercial repairs for MOD + NHS supplies and food chains and other essential work.
We will be available 24/7 to cover emergency commercial vehicle repairs, if you are in urgent need of our help please get in contact with us. Our numbers are as follows - 01623 627653 - 07776 298450 (Scott) - 07768 947202 (Lee) - 07776 298452 (Antony)
At this time the safety of our team and customers are priority.
Please note that any claims relating to epidemic, pandemic or the coronavirus unless for medical and related expenses, excluding curtailment, will not be covered for (a) any new policies purchased and (b) existing policies amended on or after 26th May 2020.
I am aware that any claims relating to epidemic, pandemic or the coronavirus are not covered under any section of the policy apart from medical and related expenses, excluding curtailment.