Prime Minister Boris Johnson will make an announcement today on the latest response to the Covid pandemic.
It is expected to cover the preparations for a further relaxation of the UK lockdown rules, according to which non-essential retail and beer gardens can be reopened in just a week, reports the MEN.
However, other announcements regarding international travel, vaccination records and free testing will also be made at the Downing Street press conference that afternoon.
Here are the key points expected to be announced:
Test twice a week
Everyone in England is to be offered free coronavirus tests twice a week.
The lateral flow tests, which can give results in about 30 minutes, will be available starting Friday whether or not people have symptoms.
Participants can receive a test through a home ordering service, a test program at work or school, or by pickup at a local test location.
The prime minister said the program would help stop new outbreaks and allow authorities to identify and control new variants of the disease.
“As we continue to make good progress on our vaccination program and as our roadmap is carefully easing restrictions, regular rapid tests are even more important to ensure that this effort is not wasted,” he said.
“That’s why we’re now running free rapid tests for everyone across England. This helps us stop outbreaks on their trail so we can see the people we love and do the things we enjoy again.”
Mr Johnson will chair a virtual meeting of the Covid O Committee today before briefing the entire Cabinet of the arrangements for the final phase of the unblocking in England.
The government had previously promised to give companies a week in advance of the reopening – which means that confirmation should come on Easter Monday evening.
Triggering Step 2 depends on four tests: infection rates, vaccine introduction, new variants, and hospitalizations and deaths.
It is likely that he will announce that Step 2 can resume from April 12th in England, where non-essential stores will reopen and outdoor hospitality will take place.
Toiletries such as hairdressers and outdoor attractions such as zoos are also reopening.
Libraries and community centers will be given the green light to reopen and for indoor recreational activities including gyms.
Independent accommodation can also be resumed for households only, and the event pilots begin.
The rule of six outdoors persists indoors without mixing.
Mr Johnson is expected to say more about plans for Covid certificates for mass gatherings, from sporting events to nightclubs.
However, ministers are concerned about the proposals for the system of “Covid Status Certification” known as the “vaccination pass”.
Ministers insist that the certificates – which could be a cell phone app or a paper document – are never needed for essential services such as supermarkets, public transport or general practitioners’ offices.
Also, at least initially, they won’t need to go to pubs or restaurants when they start serving again.
Ministers believe the program will be most useful in managing the risks when there are large numbers of people in close proximity, such as music festivals, sports games and nightclubs.
However, more than 40 Tory MPs have signed a bipartisan letter against vaccination passports, while Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer has labeled them “un-British,” increasing the prospect of a possible defeat for the government if, as expected, one Commons there is a vote.
According to the plans set out over the weekend, the certificates will show whether a person has received the vaccine, has recently tested negative for the virus, or whether their “natural immunity” has tested positive in the past six months.
The government plans to try a number of events over the coming weeks, including the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theater in Sheffield and the culmination of the FA Cup Final on May 15 at Wembley.
Initially, no certificates will be used, although viewers will need to be tested for Covid-19 both before and after the event.
The Prime Minister will also outline the government’s approach to lifting restrictions on vacation abroad from May 17.
He will provide further details of the framework for easing international travel restrictions ahead of the Global Travel Task Force report due April 12.
While the UK travel ban will not be lifted until May 17, according to the timetable, Downing Street has stated that if the rules are relaxed, there will be a risk-based traffic light system with red, amber and green ratings for countries around the world.
Travelers arriving from green rated countries do not need to isolate themselves, although pre- and post-departure testing is still required.
For those classified as amber or red, the restrictions remain as they apply to arrivals required to isolate or enter quarantine.