If you were Prime Minister - our readers say how they would lift lockdown
We asked you, our readers, how you would deal with lifting lockdown if you were Prime Minister. What would you open up first, we asked? Or would you keep the country in lockdown longer?
We received hundreds of suggestions from our would-be Prime Ministers, with a healthy mix of opinions on how the country can begin to move forward from lockdown.
Retail sales slumped in January with many stores struggling amid the lockdown restrictions. This week, we have seen the effects of lockdown on our local businesses, with St George's Shopping Centre in Preston facing an uncertain future after its owners fell into administration, whilst Prezzo closed its restaurant at the Capitol Centre.
Meanwhile, our hospitals are still stretched as staff care for those with coronavirus, with 67 Covid patients in Blackpool Vic and 107 in Royal Preston Hospital as of Tuesday (February 16).
So how should we move forward?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce his "roadmap" out of lockdown on Monday (February 22), with schools expected to reopen on March 8.
But what will this mean for our pubs, restaurants, cafes, "non-essential" shops, gyms and leisure centres? And what about meeting with our family and friends?
How do we protect the NHS and save lives whilst also saving jobs and businesses?
This is what you said you would do if you were Prime Minister
A cautious Sue Metcalfe said she would do "nothing till hospitals are empty of Covid patients".
"Nothing until everyone has had their 2nd vaccine and the hospitals are empty of Covid patients," she said.
"Give the homeless a bed. Keep all borders closed, then when numbers are really, really low open a bit at a time and monitor after a month.
"If all is well, open something else. This has to be done slowly or we will be back to square 1."
Sharon Taylor said, as PM, she would take Sue's approach.
She said: "Nothing till hospitals are empty so we can give nurses and doctors a break."
Brian Tipping and John Murphy agreed. Brian said, "Nothing until all are double jabbed, then lift slowly" and John added, "Nothing till everyone's had jabs otherwise caution is pointless."
Maureen Kippax suggested gradually lifting restrictions whilst keeping the country's borders closed .
She said: "Stop people coming into our country. Open schools up slowly then open up everything slowly.
"Pubs and restaurants last, by which time hopefully most people will have had the injection."
Bazer Aldred said she would open sectors one-at-a-time on a monthly basis to monitor which areas "drive the virus".
She said: "I’d open schools, wait four weeks, then essential shops, wait four weeks, and so on then you know what sectors are driving the virus."
Andy Armitage said, as PM, he would favour an even stricter lockdown for one month with a zero tolerance shown to those venturing outside.
"Give everyone a voucher for none perishable foods," he said. "Time to stock up and lockdown for a month, no excuses! Stay in or get locked up."
Amanda Duffy suggested: "Hard lockdown now for two full weeks then everything open and running as normal."
But Janet Heys said she would act even faster as PM and end lockdown immediately.
She said: "Lift everything! As we need to get on with life like we do with any virus. And try and save the country."
Sarah Buckhardt said, if she was in charge at No.10, she would begin gradually by rolling out vaccines to teachers.
"I would add teachers and early years providers to the next list of people to be eligible to be vaccinated," she said.
"Also school cooks, cleaners and caretakers as they are all at added risk too."
Laying out her roadmap to end lockdown, Alice Cassandra said she would begin by lifting outdoor restrictions, before bringing back the rule of 6 and gradually opening businesses.
She said: "Outside meetings (distanced, with size caps), immediately. It's well established now that transmission is negligible, and banning them just drives people to riskier indoor meetups.
"As the weather warms, let's get picnics going. This would include restaurants and bars as well.
"Once people over 65 and in all residential homes (inc. the disabled) have been offered the vaccine and it has taken effect, bring back the rule of six.
"As cases come down, hairdressers, self-catering accommodation, and all retail. Still no indoor dining at this point - too much of a super-spreader risk.
"Once the first phase of the vaccination has been finished, lift all restrictions."
Duncan Robson said, if he were PM, opening gyms would be a priority to help improve people's health.
"Opening gyms, because we are going to have a very unfit, very obese country," he said. "The county is going to be full of incredibly unhealthy individuals who will suffer from ill health as a result of being out of condition because of this endless lockdown."
He added: "People do not seem to be interested in the notion that being healthy can result in improved immune system response."
What would you do if you were PM? Join the conversation and share your thoughts in our Facebook comments.