The UK government will on Monday, set out plans to restart international travel and open sections of the economy using a traffic-light system for countries based on infection and vaccination levels.
This is as the government said that everyone in England will be able to take a Covid-19 test twice a week in a new drive to track the pandemic as society reopens and the vaccine rollout continues at its rapid rate.
According to a report from Reuters, this disclosure was made by the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who said in a public statement that the new mass testing programme would break the chain of transmissions and spot cases without symptoms.
According to reports on the new plan, international travel is not expected to resume until May 17, 2021, at the earliest with Johnson not expected to set out a specific timeframe.
The British government is encouraged to pursue the reopening plans after it gave AstraZeneca and Pfizer shots to well over half the adult population in addition to the fact that reopening of schools in March has also not yet led to a spike in cases, despite increased testing.
The staggered plan by the UK, which is one of the worst-hit countries during this pandemic, to ease restrictions in the coming months, is coming at a time when most European countries are enforcing another round of lockdown due to a spike in infections.
Johnson, in his statement, said, “As we continue to make good progress on our vaccine programme and with our roadmap to cautiously easing restrictions underway, regular rapid testing is even more important to make sure those efforts are not wasted.’’
Junior health minister Edward Argar said the tests would be sent to homes or businesses or picked up from pharmacies or test centres. He said he was confident people would isolate.
The increased testing is expected to assist health officials to track the pandemic as the country slowly reopens from a strict four-month lockdown.
Johnson is expected to also confirm that all retail, outdoor hospitality and hairdressers can reopen on April 12 in England.
What you should know
- International travel is currently banned except for a handful of permitted reasons with people currently arriving from abroad to the UK required to self-isolate for 10 days.
- British nationals who arrive from a banned “red list” of high-risk countries face costly quarantine in government-approved hotels.
- The government urged people not to book summer holidays, saying it was “too early to predict” which would be the green-lighted countries.
- The UK government also announced that it will allow a number of people to attend public events such as football matches from this month in trials of a virus certification system.
- The UK, which has recorded over 126,000 deaths from the pandemic, the highest in Europe, has already given out more than 31 million first vaccine doses and over 5 million second doses.