Timeline of key events since UK was put into lockdown
Wednesday marks six months since Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the UK on lockdown and restrictions are tightening again after a rise in Covid-19 cases.
Here are the key dates and events since the unprecedented restrictions were announced on March 23.
– March 23: The UK public is told that they will only be allowed to leave their homes for limited reasons, including food shopping, exercise once per day, medical need and travelling for work when absolutely necessary.
All shops selling non-essential goods are told to close, gatherings of more than two people in public are banned, events including weddings – but excluding funerals – are cancelled.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab tells Britons travelling abroad to return home while they still can.
– March 24: Health Secretary Matt Hancock reveals a new Nightingale hospital – with a capacity of 4,000 – is being prepared at the ExCeL Centre in London and a scheme is launched to recruit 250,000 volunteers to help the NHS but more than half a million people apply in just two days.
– March 25: The Prince of Wales tests positive for coronavirus, but is displaying only “mild symptoms”, Clarence House says.
Sweeping emergency powers to tackle the coronavirus are set to become law after clearing the House of Lords without amendment.
– March 26: An 84-year-old man becomes the first inmate to die in prison of Covid-19.
The UK becomes the largest single contributor in the search for a coronavirus vaccine, pledging £210 million in aid funding.
A support package for the self-employed is announced – covering an average of 80% of earnings over the past three years.
The Clap for our Carers campaign begins, kicking off a weekly national applause for frontline workers.
– March 27: Mr Johnson and Mr Hancock test positive for Covid-19, while chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty says he has symptoms and is self-isolating.
– March 28: UK deaths from coronavirus reach 1,019 – an increase of 260 in 24 hours.
Amged El-Hawrani, a 55-year-old consultant, becomes the first frontline NHS hospital worker to die after testing positive for coronavirus.
– April 2: The Prime Minister comes out of self-isolation for a brief appearance at the door of No 11 Downing Street to join the clap for key workers.
Mr Hancock sets a goal of reaching 100,000 tests for coronavirus per day by the end of April.
A million confirmed cases of coronavirus are recorded across the world, according to figures collated by Johns Hopkins University in the US.
– April 4: Sir Keir Starmer is elected leader of the Labour Party.
– April 5: The Queen tells the nation if we “remain united and resolute” in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, “we will overcome it”.
Downing Street says Mr Johnson has been admitted to hospital for tests as a “precautionary step” as his coronavirus symptoms persisted.
– April 6: Downing Street says the Prime Minister’s condition has worsened and he is moved to St Thomas’ Hospital’s intensive care unit.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab deputises for Mr Johnson.
The number of people who have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK rises beyond 5,000.
– April 7: Downing Street says the PM’s condition remains “stable” and he is in “good spirits”. He is later moved from intensive care back to the ward.
The first patients are admitted to the NHS Nightingale hospital in London.
– April 8: A lack of protective equipment for nurses is “fundamentally compromising” the care they can give patients, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) warns.
– April 10: The worldwide death toll linked to coronavirus hits 100,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.
– April 11: Home Secretary Priti Patel says she was sorry if anyone felt there had been failings over the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers.
– April 12: Mr Johnson is discharged from hospital and will continue his recovery at Chequers, Downing Street says.
The hospital death toll of people who have tested positive for coronavirus in the UK passes the 10,000 mark.
– April 13: Care sector bosses say daily death tolls are “airbrushing out” hundreds of elderly people who have died at care homes.
– April 14: Chancellor Rishi Sunak warns the Government will not be able to protect every UK business and every household during the pandemic, adding: “These are tough times and there will be more to come.”
– April 16: Mr Raab, still deputising for the Prime Minister, announces that lockdown measures will be extended for at least three more weeks.
– April 18: More than 15,000 are reported to have died in hospital in the UK after testing positive for coronavirus.
– April 20: The Duke of Edinburgh makes a rare statement, praising those tackling the pandemic across the UK and keeping essential services running.
The Chancellor reveals that more than 140,000 applied to the Government’s job retention scheme on the morning of its launch.
Downing Street says ministers and officials are working around the clock to ensure frontline NHS staff get the correct PPE, amid mounting frustration over a lack of supplies.
– April 22: For the first time in British parliamentary history, MPs contribute to Prime Minister’s Questions via videolink.
– April 23: Millions of people become eligible for a coronavirus test under an expansion of the testing programme for essential workers and their households, announced by the Health Secretary.
The first people are injected as part of human trials in the UK for a coronavirus vaccine, lead by Oxford University, while Mr Hancock announces the new NHSX app for contact tracing.
– April 27: Mr Johnson is back in Downing Street and “in charge” of the Government’s response to the outbreak.
– April 28: Mr Johnson vows that key workers who have lost their lives in the pandemic will not be forgotten, as a national minute’s silence is held in their honour.
– April 29: Data included in the Government’s daily updates for the first time shows 26,097 people have died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community in the UK after contracting Covid-19, Public Health England (PHE) says.
Mr Johnson’s fiancee Carrie Symonds gives birth to a boy called Wilfred.
– April 30: In his first Downing Street press conference since being hospitalised for Covid-19, Mr Johnson says the country is now “past the peak of this disease”.
Captain Tom Moore celebrates his 100th birthday at home with his family after becoming a national hero by raising more than £32 million for the NHS by walking laps in his garden.
– May 1: Mr Hancock says the Government has met its target of hitting 100,000 coronavirus tests in a day by the end of April after conducting 122,347 tests on April 30.
– May 3: Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says the contact tracing app will be piloted on the Isle of Wight before being rolled out more widely later in May.
– May 4: It is announced the first NHS Nightingale field hospital – at London’s ExCeL centre – will be placed on standby.
– May 5: The UK’s declared death toll from coronavirus rises to more than 32,000, passing Italy’s total and becoming the highest in Europe.
Trials of the new coronavirus contact-tracing app begin on the Isle of Wight and Mr Hancock dismisses warnings by civil liberties campaigners that it could open the door to widespread “state surveillance”.
– May 6: Mr Johnson sets a new 200,000 daily coronavirus testing target by the end of the month as he said he “bitterly” regrets the Covid-19 crisis in care homes and is frustrated about problems supplying PPE.
Professor Neil Ferguson quits as a Government adviser on coronavirus and resigns from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) after allowing a woman to visit him at his London home during lockdown.
– May 7: Black men and women in England and Wales are more than four times more likely to die a coronavirus-related death than white people, analysis by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests.
Former TalkTalk chief executive Baroness Dido Harding is appointed to lead the contact tracing programme.
– May 10: Mr Johnson announces the first easing of England’s lockdown, telling people they are allowed to sunbathe in parks and leave the house to exercise more than once a day.
He says England may be in a position “to begin the phased reopening of shops” and get primary pupils back to school in steps staggered by year groups “at the earliest by June 1”.
– May 11: Garden centres can reopen and people will be allowed outdoors for unlimited exercise in pursuits such as tennis, golf, lawn bowls and basketball under the new changes.
People must keep two metres away from others and are also encouraged to wear face coverings in enclosed places.
– May 12: The Chancellor says the furlough scheme, which is supporting 7.5 million jobs, will be extended until the end of October, but employers will be expected to pick up a share of the bill from August as the economy reopens.
– May 13: Mr Johnson announces a £600 million package for coronavirus infection control in English care homes as he admitted that the number of deaths among residents has been “too high”.
It came after official figures suggested that care home deaths accounted for 40% (2,423) of the 6,035 coronavirus-related fatalities registered in England and Wales in the week ending May 1.
– May 14: England’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Van-Tam says frontline workers, including those in the NHS, will be the first to get a new antibody test for Covid-19.
– May 17: The Government invests a further £84 million in the hunt for a vaccine, supporting teams at Oxford University and Imperial College London.
The former is said to have signed a global licensing agreement with AstraZeneca which could see it supply 100 million doses of a vaccine – with 30 million going to the UK – as soon as September.
– May 18: Everyone aged five and over is made eligible to be tested for coronavirus if they are showing symptoms, which are expanded to included a loss of taste or smell.
– May 20: A testing and tracing system, seen as the key to easing the lockdown, will be up and running by June 1 – but the rollout of the contact tracing app will come later, says Mr Johnson.
He says 25,000 staff would be in place by the start of June and they would be capable of tracking the contacts of up to 10,000 new Covid-19 cases a day.
– May 22: Home Secretary Priti Patel announces plans for people arriving in the UK from overseas to undergo a 14-day quarantine period from June 8.
Reports suggest that Mr Johnson’s senior aide Dominic Cummings allegedly broke the Government’s lockdown rules when he was spotted at his parents’ property in Durham where he was recovering from coronavirus symptoms, after travelling from his London home with his wife and son who also fell ill.
– May 23: A second eyewitness tells newspapers they saw Mr Cummings a week earlier in Barnard Castle, a popular tourist location 30 miles away from Durham, during the period he was believed to be self-isolating.
– May 24: Mr Johnson says Mr Cummings “acted responsibly, legally and with integrity”, and “any parent would frankly understand what he did”.
Mr Johnson confirms there will be a phased reopening of England’s primary schools.
– May 25: Mr Cummings defends his actions in a press conference in the Downing Street rose garden, saying he believes he behaved “reasonably” and does not regret his actions.
Mr Johnson announces plans for shops across England to open in June if they can meet the coronavirus guidelines to protect shoppers and workers.
Outdoor markets and car showrooms could open from June 1 and all other non-essential retailers – such as those selling clothes and books – will be allowed to open from June 15, provided the Government’s five tests are met.
– May 26: Doctors are now able to prescribe the drug remdesivir, which has been shown to shorten recovery time, to those who have severe Covid-19 infection.
– May 28: NHS Test and Trace officially launches across England with the help of 25,000 contact tracers, while an accompanying app is still delayed by several weeks.
Mr Johnson announces groups of up to six are allowed to meet outside.
– May 29: A final self-employment coronavirus grant is to be made available and businesses must start paying towards the worker furlough scheme from August, Mr Sunak announces.
– May 30: England’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Van-Tam says Britain is facing a “very dangerous moment” with the easing of lockdown restrictions.
At the same press conference, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announces that elite sport events would begin behind closed doors from June 1.
– May 31: The target to build testing capacity to 200,000 tests per day in the UK has been reached a day early, according to Mr Hancock, with a total of 205,634 tests available.
– June 1: Lockdown measures are eased, with school children in England in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 returning to the classroom.
– June 2: MPs approve the Government’s plan to end virtual voting in the Commons.
– June 5: Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announces a two-month extension to the Government’s halt on evictions from social and private rented properties.
Meanwhile, the Health Secretary urges people not break lockdown rules by attending protests planned following the death in the US of George Floyd.
– June 15: England’s retail parks, high streets and shopping centres welcome customers, while zoos and safari parks open their doors for the first time since March.
Places of worship reopen for private prayer while some secondary school pupils have begun returning to their classrooms.
– June 16: The cheap steroid dexamethasone is hailed as a major breakthrough as a study suggests it is the first drug to reduce deaths from coronavirus.
– June 18: Apple and Google take over the design of the Track and Trace app from the NHS’s digital arm NHSX as the Government abandons its own app.
– June 19: The UK’s chief medical officers agreed to downgrade the coronavirus alert level from four to three after a “steady” and continuing decrease in cases in all four nations.
– June 23: The Prime Minister holds the final daily coronavirus press conference, but reassures the public it would not be the last time they heard from the Government and its advisers.
Meanwhile, the first healthy volunteer receives a “small dose” of a potential vaccine developed by researchers from Imperial College London.
– June 26: Mr Johnson warns people against “taking liberties” with social distancing rules after thousands flocked to beaches during the heatwave.
The Department for Transport announces that public transport services in England will be ramped up, while ministers confirm the requirement to quarantine for two weeks will be scrapped for a list of popular destinations.
– June 29: A local lockdown is imposed on Leicester by Mr Hancock following a spike of coronavirus cases in the city.
It comes as the rest of England moves to ease restrictions on places of social gathering such as pubs and restaurants from July 4.
– July 3: A list of 73 countries and territories where English tourists can visit without self-isolating on their return is published, including popular short-haul destinations such as Spain, France and Italy.
– July 4: Pub pints are poured and couples finally say “I do” as lockdown restrictions are eased across England.
– July 9: Boots says it expects to cut more than 4,000 jobs as part of action to mitigate the “significant impact” of Covid-19, just hours after John Lewis announced plans to shut eight stores, putting around 1,300 jobs at risk.
– July 13: Beauty salons, nail bars and tattoo shops in England welcome customers for the first time in four months following the relaxation of social distancing measures.
– July 16: Britain, the United States and Canada accuse Russian spies of targeting scientists seeking to develop a coronavirus vaccine.
Mr Hancock announces a partial lifting of lockdown measures in Leicester, but restrictions on non-essential travel and only having social gatherings of up to six people would remain in force.
– July 17: Mr Johnson eases the work-from-home guidance as he sets out plans for a “significant return to normality” in England from as early as November.
The Health Secretary orders an urgent review into how Public Health England (PHE) calculates daily Covid-19 death figures, after researchers criticised “statistical flaws” in the way the deaths are reported across the country.
Captain Sir Tom Moore is knighted by the Queen at Windsor Castle.
– July 21: The Chancellor announces that public sector workers on the front line of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic will be given a pay rise.
– July 24: Face coverings become mandatory in shops across England, with £100 fines to people who flout the rules.
– July 26: Spain is removed from the safe countries list, meaning travellers returning from the country, including the Spanish islands, will have to self-isolate for two weeks.
– July 27: The National Police Chiefs’ Council says 16,029 fines for alleged breaches of coronavirus regulations were issued by police forces in England and 2,640 by those in Wales between March 27 and July 20.
– July 30: People who test positive for coronavirus or display symptoms must now self-isolate for 10 days as Mr Hancock warns of a “second wave starting to roll across Europe”.
People from different households in Greater Manchester, parts of east Lancashire and West Yorkshire are banned from meeting each other inside their homes or in gardens following a spike in cases.
– July 31: Measures due to be lifted on August 1, including allowing small wedding receptions, reopening bowling alleys and casinos and pilots of larger gatherings in sports venues, are delayed for at least two weeks.
– August 1: Shielding advice for people deemed clinically extremely vulnerable during the peak of the pandemic is paused in England and Scotland.
– August 3: The Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme launches, with restaurants, pubs and cafes offering half-price meals to diners during August.
– August 8: Belgium, Andorra and The Bahamas are removed from the list of travel corridors.
– August 13: Thousands of pupils’ A-level results in England are downgraded amid cancelled exams as a result of the coronavirus crisis, due to the regulator Ofqual’s “moderation” algorithm.
France, the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks & Caicos & Aruba are added to the quarantine list, Mr Shapps announces.
– August 17: A-level and GCSE results in England are to be based on teachers’ assessments of their students, unless the grades produced by the controversial algorithm are higher, regulator Ofqual announces in a major U-turn.
– August 20: Croatia, Austria and Trinidad and Tobago are removed from the travel corridors list, while Portugal is added.
– August 24: The Prime Minister issues a plea to parents to send their children back to the classroom when schools reopen.
– August 26: The Department for Education announces that permanent secretary Jonathan Slater will stand down because “the Prime Minister has concluded that there is a need for fresh official leadership”.
– August 27: Switzerland, Jamaica and the Czech Republic are removed from the Government’s quarantine exemption list.
– August 28: Those facilitating or organising illegal raves, unlicensed music events, or any other unlawful gathering of more than 30 people may now face a £10,000 fine, as tougher measures come into force before the bank holiday weekend.
– August 30: All passengers on a Tui flight to Wales from the Greek island of Zante are told to self-isolate, after at least seven positive cases are identified among three different parties.
– September 6: A further 2,988 cases of coronavirus are reported in the UK – the largest daily figure since May 22.
– September 8: Mr Hancock warns of a possible second peak following a “concerning” rise in the number of cases.
Social gatherings of more than six people will be illegal in England from September 14, ministers announce, as the Government seeks to curb the rise in coronavirus cases.
– September 9: Trials of a Covid-19 vaccine under development by AstraZeneca and Oxford University are put on hold owing to a reported side-effect in a patient in the UK.
The Prime Minister outlines the “Operation Moonshot” approach of mass testing.
– September 11: The R value of coronavirus transmission across the UK rises above 1 for the first time since early March, according to Government advisers, with the estimate between 1.0 and 1.2.
The Government announces the NHS Covid-19 app is due to launch across England and Wales on September 24.
– September 12: Trials of a Covid-19 vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University resume.
– September 16: Labour leader Sir Keir said he is “pleased and relieved” that a coronavirus test result for one of his children had come back negative.
– September 17: Baroness Harding denies that the test and trace system is failing but acknowledges that a surge in demand was significantly outstripping capacity.
– September 18: Mr Johnson warns that a second wave of coronavirus has arrived in the UK.
Sage estimates the R number – representing the number of people an infected person will pass the virus to – at between 1.1 and 1.4, meaning cases could rise very quickly.
Parts of England’s North West, West Yorkshire and the Midlands face tough new restrictions in response to “major increases” in cases.
– September 19: The Government warns that people in England who refuse an order to self-isolate will face fines of up to £10,000.
– September 21: Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick tells a televised briefing the UK could see 50,000 cases a day by mid-October and a daily death toll of 200 or more a month later unless urgent action is taken.
The official toll of deaths within 28 days of a positive test stands at 41,788. Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have now been 57,500 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
– September 22: The Prime Minister prepares to announce new restrictions including a 10pm curfew on pubs, bars and restaurants in England from September 24.