Boris Johnson will host a coronavirus press conference this afternoon on further plans to ease lockdown in England.
He is accompanied by England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.
The press conference will also make other announcements about international travel, vaccination records, and free testing.
Here are the big questions for the Prime Minister to address …
- 1 Where did all of these bi-weekly testing headlines come from?
- 2 How much does this test cost?
- 3 Is this test rollout instead of using vaccination records?
- 4 Will vaccination passports definitely happen?
- 5 Are there no mass events without evidence of a vaccine?
- 6 What about travel abroad? Do I have to have the vaccine to go abroad?
Where did all of these bi-weekly testing headlines come from?
It seems the Prime Minister is putting his hopes on mass testing to build confidence and encourage people to check if they have Covid-19 before venturing into the shops or pubs.
With non-essential retail stores, gyms, hairdressers and libraries slated to open from April 12, and pubs and restaurants are expected to be able to serve customers outside by next week, ministers have promised to provide everyone in England with two quick cross-flow tests every week to shorten the transmission chain when the block is removed.
Widely used in schools, the cross-flow tests can deliver results in as little as 30 minutes, with the two tests per week being available from April 9th.
How much does this test cost?
Health Secretary Edward Argar would not provide an exact number on Monday, but said the cost would be covered by the £ 37 billion two-year budget for NHS tests and traces.
Is this test rollout instead of using vaccination records?
It seems the two could potentially work together, but it is understood that Mr Johnson is preparing to say more about the review of the possible use of the “Covid Status Certification” – called the “Vaccination Record” – when he comes to the Lectern on Downing Street.
Cabinet Minister Michael Gove led the review of the Vaccination Record Task Force and, although it is not expected to be completed until the summer, the Prime Minister has promised to update the scope of the work.
According to the plans set out over the weekend, the certificates are expected to show whether a person has received the vaccine, recently tested negative for the virus, or has “natural immunity” after testing positive in the past six months.
Government Minister Argar said his colleague Gove was examining whether the country should follow Israel’s lead to give those vaccinated more freedom.
When asked about vaccination records, he told the BBC: “I don’t think anyone would want to do this, but I think it’s right that it should look like this: ‘Can this help us go a little faster and get our country back ? too normal? ‘”
Will vaccination passports definitely happen?
Even if the Prime Minister approves the idea, there is enough dissatisfaction to suggest that a House of Commons vote on its use could lead to a defeat for the government.
Rachel Reeves, a member of the Senior Labor Party’s shadow cabinet, said her party had “many reservations” about its use domestically, while more than 40 Tory MPs signed a bipartisan letter against vaccination records, which means this will be a close result could.
Are there no mass events without evidence of a vaccine?
Yes, the government has announced pilots will test the use of Covid certificates for mass gatherings from sporting events to nightclubs.
Spectators at events in the coming weeks, such as the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theater in Sheffield and the FA Cup Final at Wembley on May 15, will need to be tested for Covid-19 before and after the event.
However, you do not need to prove a vaccine.
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 practitioner practices, but for risk management at music festivals, sports games and nightclubs could be useful.
What about travel abroad? Do I have to have the vaccine to go abroad?
The Prime Minister previously indicated that proof of vaccine will be likely for those looking to travel internationally.
Mr Johnson on Monday will outline the government’s own approach to lifting restrictions on vacation travel abroad from May 17.
Downing Street has announced 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.
Officials have made it clear that there will be no announcement this week as to which country is on which list – a decision criticized by tourism industry leaders.