Since the third national lockdown was introduced in England in January 2021, many have been dreaming of the day lockdown restrictions will finally come to an end. In February the Prime Minister outlined the Government's roadmap for easing England out of lockdown over the coming months. Step 3 of the roadmap will come into place on Monday, May 17.
Restaurants, pubs and bars have been able to open outdoors since Step 2 was announced in April.
However, from May 17 restaurants and pubs will now be able to serve customers in indoor premises.
For the first time in months, people will be able to meet in groups of six or two households in indoor settings.
Swathes of the entertainment industry, including cinemas and bowling alleys, will be able to open from May 17, as will remaining aspects of the accommodation sector.
READ MORE: UK ship building will boost red wall coastal towns © GETTYBoris Johnson
© GETTYWhen is the next lockdown announcement? Boris Johnson
The reason many lockdown restrictions can be eased on Monday is the current situation has met the four criteria necessary to relax the rules, ministers have said.
Addressing the public this week, Boris Johnson said: "I want to thank you particularly because your efforts have so visibly paid off, giving us the time to vaccinate more than two-thirds of all adults across the UK, with more than one third - nearly 18 million people - also receiving their second dose and thereby unquestionably saving many lives.
"And so it's precisely because of your efforts that I can confirm today that we've met our four tests for further easing the lockdown in England.
"With deaths and hospitalisations at their lowest level since last July and the UK's four chief medical officers today agreeing a reduction in the alert level, the data now support moving to step three in England from next Monday, May 17." © EXPRESSUK coronavirus map live
When is the next lockdown announcement?
Health Secretary Matt Hancock will issue an update on the spread of the Indian coronavirus variant at 4pm this afternoon in the House of Commons.
Following this, the next step of the lockdown easing roadmap is Step 4 and the earliest date this will be introduced is June 21.
However, the lockdown easing plan is based on data rather than dates, so Step 4 could be introduced further on in the year instead.
Mr Hancock said the Government will decide a few days before the proposed Step 4 date of June 21 whether restrictions can indeed be eased.
He told Sky News: "We'll make a final decision for step four, which is the biggest step on the roadmap. We'll make that final decision on June 14."
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Back in business! Pub and restaurant reservations up 46% for May 17 [REPORT] © GETTYWhen is the next lockdown announcement? Matt Hancock
Will the Indian Covid variant delay Step 4?
There are concerns the growing prevalence in some parts of the UK of the Covid variant first detected in India could mean delays to the proposed end date for lockdown restrictions.
However, ministers have said this week the evidence suggests vaccines will still be effective against the new variant.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the "strategy is on track" in an interview with the BBC's Andrew Marr on Sunday.
He said: "But the good news is because we have increasing confidence that the vaccine works against the variant, the strategy is on track - it's just the virus has just gained a bit of pace and we've therefore all got to be that bit much more careful and cautious."
Although there is some optimism from Government figures, with several weeks to go until the proposed June 21 lockdown end, it is not certain yet whether restrictions will definitely finish on this date.
When asked if all restrictions are likely to end on June 21 as planned, Professor John Edmunds, a member of Sage, told the Andrew Marr Show: "I think we'll know much more about that in the next few weeks as we see how this variant spreads and the impact that it's going to have.
"I think at the moment it's a bit too early to say."