Boris Johnson is preparing to announce a ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown.
The Prime Minister and his cabinet have been hearing scientific evidence all week on the impact restrictions have had on coronavirus.
Mr Johnson has also been looking at the progress made from the UK’s vaccination programme.
As ministers have begun to review the measures, he stressed the need to be ‘very prudent’.
Mr Johnson pledged an “irreversible” approach, but that he cannot offer a “cast iron guarantee” that England’s third national lockdown will be its last.
And on Monday, during the latest Downing Street briefing, the PM confirmed that no decisions had been made at that point on what the way out of the national lockdown would look like.
When is the announcement?
Mr Johnson is set to address the nation on Monday, February 22 with an announcement on the route to easing restrictions.
The government has said reopening schools is their first priority, with March 8 earmarked as the date for return.
However reports suggest a more staggered approach may be taken – with secondary schools going back a week later than primaries.
“No decisions have been taken on that sort of detail yet, though clearly schools on March 8 has for a long time been a priority of the government and of families up and down the country,” Mr Johnson told reporters on Monday.
“We will do everything we can to make that happen,” but he warned that infection rates are still “comparatively high” and Covid-19 patients in the NHS remain higher than the April peak.
“So we’ve got to be very prudent and what we wanted to see is progress that is cautious but irreversible, and I think that’s what the public and people up and down the country will want to see,” Mr Johnson added.
What is the government looking at for the roadmap?
Boris Johnson’s decisions over how and when restrictions may be lifted will be informed by the latest Covid-19 data.
The key data falls into six categories: the rate of new cases of coronavirus; the number of hospital admissions and patients; the success of the vaccine rollout; the level of deaths; the estimated number of infections within the community population; and the estimated reproduction number (R), or growth, of the virus.
The impact of the lockdown can be seen most strikingly in the steep decline since Christmas of the number of new cases of Covid-19.
The number of patients in hospitals in England has fallen in recent weeks, and latest figures state a total of 15,633 patients are in hospital according to NHS England.
In the North West, though, the numbers have only fallen to where they were at Christmas 2020.
Meanwhile, the current wave of coronavirus deaths peaked on January 19.
Since then, the daily death toll for England has been on a slow and broadly downwards curve, dropping back below 1,000 on January 29.