IN less than a week, coronavirus restrictions will be eased once more.

At a press conference yesterday, prime minister Boris Johnson announced the country will take the third step on the ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown on May 17.

Loved ones will be allowed to for the first time in over a year, groups of up to 30 can meet outdoors, university students can return to campus and pubs and restaurants can open indoors.

What’s happened since the last easing of restrictions which has got us to where we are today?


The government’s daily update released yesterday showed 19 new Covid cases across Dorset.

It meant the latest rolling infection rate in the BCP Council area was 12.6 per 100,000 people while in Dorset it was 7.7 per 100,000.

The Covid-19 alert level moved from level 4 to level 3, meaning the epidemic is in ‘general circulation’.

A statement from the chief medical officers for England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales as well as NHS England national medical director Stephen Powys said: “Following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in the light of the most recent data, the UK chief medical officers and NHS England national medical director agree that the UK alert level should move from level 4 to level 3.

“Thanks to the efforts of the UK public in social distancing and the impact we are starting to see from the vaccination programme, case numbers, deaths and Covid hospital pressures have fallen consistently.

“However Covid is still circulating with people catching and spreading the virus every day so we all need to continue to be vigilant. This remains a major pandemic globally.

“It is very important that we all continue to follow the guidance closely and everyone gets both doses of the vaccine when they are offered it.”

In the week leading up to May 2, just four people were admitted to hospital in Dorset with the virus and nearly 690,000 vaccinations had been administered in the county.


Non-essential shops, outdoor hospitality and services like hairdressers opened on April 12.

The public could finally head to the pub for a pint and get a much-needed haircut after months of waiting.

And throughout, Covid cases have remained at a similar level, with the rolling rates not going above 20 per 100,000 people since the easing of restrictions.

At the end of April, the vaccine rollout was extended to people aged 40 and over in England.

NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “With nine tenths of people aged 45 and over having been jabbed, nearly three quarters of a million new appointments were made in just two days as our booking service opened to people aged 42 to 44.

“With second doses also proceeding apace, we’re now ready to invite all those aged 40 and over to join the most successful vaccination drive in health service history.”

At the same time, the ‘R rate’ in the south west was between 0.8 and 1.2, which was higher than the UK’s rate of 0.8 and 1.1.

And the easing of restrictions meant Synergy Hairdressing, in Lower Parkstone and Blandford, reported record results in the weeks following lockdown.

The business forecasted a 40 per cent increase in turnover, with all salons booked for the month ahead.

MAY 17

Restrictions are set to ease once more on May 17, giving people significantly more freedom.

Most social contact rules outdoors will be lifted, although gatherings of more than 30 will remain illegal.

Indoors, the rule of six or two households will apply, with Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove suggesting physical contact between friends and family will be allowed.

Indoor hospitality, entertainment venues such as cinemas and soft play areas, the rest of the accommodation sector, and indoor adult group sports and exercise classes are expected to reopen.

International travel is also allowed, with a handful of countries placed on the ‘green list’, meaning people travelling to these destinations won’t have to self-isolate when returning.

Portugal, Israel, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, Iceland, Gibraltar, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands and St Helena, Tristan de Cunha and Ascension Island are all on the green list.

So with another easing imminent, what are your plans? Will you be jetting away, or heading out for an indoor pint?