Boris Johnson confirms next phase of lockdown to lift from April 12

Aditi Khanna
·3-min read

London, Apr 5 (PTI) UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday confirmed that his roadmap to ease out of the coronavirus lockdown is on track and that non-essential retail, personal care premises such as hairdressers, beauty and nail salons and indoor leisure facilities such as gyms and spas can reopen from April 12.

The additional premises will be able to reopen within set rules on social contact, with indoor settings only visited alone or with household groups and outdoor settings limited to either six people or two households under the next phase of the easing of lockdown in England to control the spread of coronavirus.

Overnight stays away from home in England will be permitted and self-contained accommodation can also reopen, though must only be used by members of the same household or support bubble.

'We see nothing in our present data that makes us think that we'll have to deviate from the roadmap,' Johnson said at a briefing from 10 Downing Street.

'On Monday 12th, I will be going to the pub myself and cautiously but irreversibly raising a pint of beer to my lips,” he said.

But he also warned over the continuing threat posed by the deadly virus and added a note of caution: 'We can't be complacent. We can see the waves of sickness affecting other countries and we have seen how this story goes.' 'We still don't know how strong the vaccine shield will be when cases begin to rise, as I'm afraid that they will, and that's why we are saying please get your vaccine — or your second dose — when your turn comes,' he said.

A further easing of COVID-19 restrictions comes after all four official tests — a successful vaccine deployment programme, coronavirus hospitalisation and death rates under control, infections not putting pressure on the NHS, and the risk assessment not changed by variants — were met, Johnson said.

It followed a Cabinet meeting earlier on Monday, where the plans were finalised.

It was confirmed that a COVID-status certification system, so-called COVID passports, will be developed over the coming months which could allow “higher-risk settings“ to be opened up more safely and with more participants.

Over the coming months, a system will be developed which will take into account three factors: vaccination, a recent negative test, or natural immunity (determined on the basis of a positive test taken in the previous six months).

Events pilots will take place from mid-April to trial the system. All pilots are checking COVID status, initially this will be through testing alone but in later pilots vaccination and acquired immunity are expected to be alternative ways to demonstrate status, Downing Street said.

On overseas travel, Johnson said he was hopeful over the lifting of the ban on foreign holidays from May 17 but that will be determined by the state of the pandemic abroad, and the progress of vaccination programmes in other countries.

The advise continues to be for people not to book summer breaks abroad 'until the picture is clearer'. PTI AK MRJ MRJ