PM confirms further easing of restrictions and trials Covid certificates

The roadmap is on track and easements planned for 12 April in England can go ahead, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed.
Although he continued to urge caution, Mr Johnson said that the data showed that the Government’s ‘four tests’ for easing Covid restrictions had been met.

‘Outdoor gatherings must still be limited to six people or two households,’ the Prime Minister warned, ‘and you must not socialise indoors with anyone you do not live with or have not formed a support bubble with.’

Changes from 12 April

Non-essential retail and personal care premises such as hairdressers, beauty and nail salons will be able to reopen as will indoor leisure facilities such as gyms and spas (but not including saunas and steam rooms, which are due to open at Step 3).

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.

Public buildings such as libraries and community centres will also open again as will the majority of outdoor settings and attractions including zoos, theme parks, drive-in cinemas and drive-in performances events.

Hospitality venues will be able to open for outdoor service, with no requirement for a substantial meal to be served alongside alcohol, and no curfew. The requirement to eat and drink while seated will remain.

The number of care home visitors will increase to two per resident, and all children will be able to attend any indoor children’s activity, including sport, regardless of circumstance.

Parent and child groups of up to 15 people (not counting children aged under five years old) can restart indoors.

Funerals can continue with up to 30 attendees while weddings, outdoor receptions, and commemorative events including wakes will be able to take place with up to 15 attendees (in premises that are permitted to open).

Testing, testing

From 9 April, everyone in England, including those without symptoms, will be able to access free rapid lateral flow tests (LFDs) for themselves and their families to use twice a week.

The expanded regular testing offer for people without symptoms will be delivered through:

  • a home ordering service, which allows people to order lateral flow tests online to be delivered to their home;
  • workplace testing programmes, on-site or at home;
  • community testing, offered by all local authorities;
  • collection at a local PCR test site during specific test collection time windows; and
  • testing on-site at schools and colleges.

A new ‘Pharmacy Collect’ service is also launching which will provide an additional route to regular testing. People aged over 18 without symptoms will be able to visit a participating local pharmacy and collect a box of seven rapid tests to use twice a week at home.
See NHS.UK/get-tested for full details.

Next steps

A Covid-status certification system will be developed over the coming months which could allow higher-risk settings to be opened up more safely and with more participants, the Government has announced.

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).

Responding to questions, the Prime Minister said that certification could play a role in settings such as theatres, nightclubs and mass events to help manage risk but there are some settings, including essential public services, public transport and essential shops, where Covid-status certification should never be required.

There will be further consultation with the hospitality industry and certification will not be required for reopening as part of step two or three of the roadmap out of lockdown.

Finally, the Government remains ‘hopeful’ that international travel can go ahead from 17 May and has promised a risk-based traffic light system. As yet, however, there is no indication as which countries will be rated red, amber or green and no guarantee that the 17 May date will see any substantial return to holiday travel.

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