U.K.'s Johnson launches mass testing program as economy reopens

LONDON – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday that if society reopens and the vaccine rollout continues at a rapid pace, anyone in England can have a Covid-19 test twice a week to track the pandemic.

Johnson, who is expected to confirm plans to restart international travel and open up parts of the economy later Monday, said the new mass testing program would break the chain of transmissions and detect symptoms with no cases.

With much of Europe undergoing new lockdowns to address the growing cases, Johnson has put in place a phased plan to ease restrictions over the coming months. This is a huge boost for one of the hardest hit countries during the pandemic.

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“As we continue to make good progress with our immunization program and cautious on our roadmap to gently relax restrictions, regular rapid tests are even more important to ensure that this effort is not wasted,” Johnson said in a statement.

Junior Health Secretary Edward Argar said the tests would be sent to homes or businesses, or collected from pharmacies or testing centers. He said he was confident that people would isolate.

“People are doing the right thing,” he told Sky News.

First customer at Taylor Ferguson’s hair salon has their hair cut after Covid-19 lockdown measures were eased in Scotland on Monday.ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP – Getty Images

The increased testing will help health officials track the pandemic as the country slowly reopens after a strict four-month lockdown.

Johnson is expected to confirm that all retail stores, outdoor restaurants and hairdressers can reopen in England on April 12 while using a country traffic light system based on infection and vaccination levels for international travel.

Vaccination records are also kept for mass events in court.

According to the current plan, international travel will resume on May 17th at the earliest. The Financial Times said Johnson was not expected to set a specific time frame.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are following their own similar paths out of a strict lockdown that was imposed earlier this year.

The UK can seek recovery after AstraZeneca and Pfizer gunshots well over half of the adult population. A reopening of the schools in March has not yet led to an increase in cases, despite intensified tests.

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