The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which regulates fertility treatment in the UK, has announced that IVF clinics will be able to apply to reopen from 11th May.
Before they're allowed to welcome patients again, clinics will have to "show they're meeting conditions to provide safe and effective treatment during the [coronavirus] outbreak," the government has stipulated.
The HFEA officially halted all fertility treatments on 15th April, but many clinics had closed much earlier, when the Prime Minister placed the UK into lockdown on 23rd March.
Sally Cheshire, Chair of the HFEA, acknowledged that "the closure of clinics has been extremely distressing for patients" and said the reopening announcement "will be good news for those wanting to resume treatment and have the opportunity to try for their much longed-for family".
In April an anonymous frontline healthcare worker told Refinery29 she was "devastated" her IVF treatment had been cancelled, explaining that the journey to get to a position where treatment was even possible had been a long and complicated one.
"We knew that it was going to be challenging but we've done everything we can: changing our diet, changing our lifestyle, having regular counselling, being in touch with the clinic, getting all our financial affairs sorted, reorganising my work schedule," she said. "It feels completely ridiculous that it's just gone."
The government said it expects that "many private clinics may be able to demonstrate their readiness to restart services relatively quickly" after the 11th May embargo.
However, it also noted that "NHS clinics may require longer to achieve the necessary conditions", especially if their usual staff have been redeployed in frontline healthcare roles.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he'll be writing to local clinical commissioning groups this week to confirm they're in a position to resume treatment in their area from 11th May.
"People who are relying on fertility treatment have been worried during these unprecedented times not knowing when they could continue their journey to start a family," he said. "We wanted to open these clinics as soon as it was safe to do so, and our strict guidelines will ensure staff and patients remain safe as we continue to tackle this virus."