PRIME Minister Boris Johnson will set out this afternoon how he plans to end the current national coronavirus lockdown.

The country has been under tight restrictions since January 5, with the firm message being to stay at home unless you need to venture out for an essential reason.

Schools, non-essential retail and hospitality businesses were forced to shut their doors to prevent the further spread of Covid-19 and bring infection rates back under control.

But Mr Johnson is expected to announce today when some of these strict measures will be relaxed.

READ> The Covid-19 situation in Warrington ahead of the lockdown roadmap

What can we expect from the roadmap announcement?

Schools, socialising and some sports are set to return next month, the Government is expected to announce.

It is believed that pupils in all years will be heading back to the classroom from March 8, with outdoor after-school sports and activities allowed to restart as well.

Socialising in parks and public spaces with one other person will also be permitted in a fortnight when the rules are relaxed to allow people to sit down for a drink or picnic.

A further easing of restrictions is due to take place on March 29 when the school Easter holidays begin, with larger groups allowed to gather in parks and gardens.

The rule of six will return, along with new measures allowing two households totalling more than six people to meet, giving greater flexibility for families and friends.

Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts are set to reopen at the end of next month, with organised adult and children's sport – including grassroots football – aiming for a March 29 restart.

The roadmap will also contain previously announced plans for care home residents to hold hands with a nominated loved one from March 8.

Warrington Guardian:

And it will include the Government's new target to offer vaccines to all adults by the end of July - as well as those aged over 50 and higher risk groups by April 15.

What time is the announcement likely to be made?

Mr Johnson will chair a virtual meeting of his cabinet this morning to discuss the plan.

The details set out in the roadmap will then be unveiled in Parliament in the afternoon, around 3.30pm.

The Prime Minister is also expected to host a televised Downing Street press conference at 7pm alongside key advisers.

What has the Prime Minister said ahead of the announcement?

This morning, Mr Johnson said: “Today, I will be setting out a roadmap to bring us out of lockdown cautiously.

“Our priority has always been getting children back into school, which we know is crucial for their education as well as their mental and physical wellbeing, and we will also be prioritising ways for people to reunite with loved ones safely.

Warrington Guardian:

“Our decisions will be made on the latest data at every step, and we will be cautious about this approach so that we do not undo the progress we have achieved so far and the sacrifices each and every one of you has made to keep yourself and others safe.

“We have therefore set four key tests which must be met before we can move through each step of the plan.”

Ministers will assess the success of the vaccine rollout, evidence of vaccine efficacy, new variants and infection rates before proceeding to the next step.

The tests are currently being met, Downing Street said, allowing the first relaxation to take place on March 8.