May 7, 2021

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Three big Covid announcements expected in Boris Johnson’s speech on Easter Monday

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to give an Easter Monday update on coronavirus and the route out of England’s lockdown.

He’s tipped to give a number 10 press conference on three key areas – lockdown, travel and Covid passports, reports the Mirror.

And he will confirm if pub beer gardens and hairdressers can reopen, as scheduled in the roadmap, from April 12.

The PM is also predicted to give a ‘high-level’ direction on his thinking on travel and Covid passport schemes later this summer.

Sources told the Mirror Mr Johnson’s announcement could be vague and not enough for you to plan a foreign holiday in 2021 just yet.

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Here’s what he’s expected to focus on.

Lockdown

The PM is due to hold a meeting on Easter Monday to decide if Step Two of England’s lockdown roadmap can go ahead from April 12.

Step Two sees pub beer gardens reopen along with hairdressers, gyms and self-contained holiday accommodation from that date at the earliest.

Mr Johnson had promised to give a week’s notice to businesses of reopening – meaning the confirmation should come on Easter Monday night.

Triggering Step Two, as planned, depends on four tests being met: infection rates, the vaccine rollout, new variants and hospitalisations and deaths.

The final decision will only be made hours before a public announcement after looking at the latest scientific data.

Indoor gatherings remain banned and the rule of six or two households gathering outdoors will remain.

Gyms could potentially reopen later this month

But it should see the reopening of non-essential shops, personal care, libraries, museums, gyms, swimming pools and spas. Saunas and steam rooms will remain shut.

Outdoor areas of pubs could reopen along with restaurants and cafes’ outdoors areas, with table service only. Customers can only go inside to use the bathroom facilities.

Self-contained holiday accommodation, if it reopens, will be limited to people from one household or bubble. Foreign travel will still be illegal as will overnight stays with people not in your household or bubble.

Funerals can continue with up to 30 mourners. For weddings, the numbers allowed will increase from six to 15. Driving lessons can resume and theme parks and zoos can open again.

Foreign travel

The Prime Minister is expected to update arrangements for international travel this summer.

Reports seem to suggest he will outline a three-level ‘traffic light’ system drawn up by the government’s Global Travel Taskforce.

Travel to the UK from red list countries would be not allowed as it is now for 39 countries – with returning British nationals forced into a £1,750 hotel quarantine.

A new ‘amber’ list would allow limited travel, but with testing and quarantine on return. A ‘green’ list, meanwhile could be quarantine-free from certain countries.

Travellers could see a ‘traffic light’ system introduced

But sources warn there’s little detail in the PM’s announcement that will pave the way for people to book their summer 2021 holiday abroad.

It’s expected to be a ‘high-level’ general policy, without elaborating on which countries are on which ‘light’.

While the roadmap promises foreign holidays can start from May 17 at the earliest, any chances of returning are more likely to take longer – such as July or August at the earliest.

Monday’s update could potentially be followed by a second update days later, as the Global Travel Taskforce is due to report fully by April 12.

A country’s vaccination rate is expected to “play a big part” in its status as well as the level of “variants of concern.” Potentially the US and Maldives and Israel are among the nations tipped for an early return.

Non-essential foreign travel is outlawed currently and punishable with a £5,000 fine.

Covid passports

Officials are locked in meetings ahead of an update on Covid ‘certification’ – also known as vaccine passports.

We do know there will be a “passport” scheme to let Brits visit countries abroad that demand proof of a jab.

But the issue of how they might be used within the UK is much more thorny – and has prompted a cross-party revolt.

The Prime Minister is due to talk about the future of so-called domestic certification but it is still uncertain what form this will take.

There’s speculation some kind of vaccine passports would be needed in pubs (file picture)

There’s been speculation it could mean having to show you’ve been vaccinated, such as on the NHS Covid-19 app, to get into a pub.

Mr Johnson has indicated it could be vaguer than this. He said certification could refer to either a vaccine, or a recent test, or your antibody status – or a combination of the three.

“Those three things working together will, I think, be useful”, he said. According to Spectator editor Fraser Nelson the PM now wants “vaccine passports to happen”.

It has led to a furious backlash from 70 cross-party MPs opposed to what they regard as the “oppression” of such a scheme. Manchester Central MP Lucy Powell said some of the ideas around vaccine passports go “against our British instincts and our values”.

What is known is ministers want to use certification to trial larger crowds at the FA Cup final at Wembley in May and the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield later this month.