Covid-19: PM expected to unveil foreign travel traffic light system

Covid-19 / Mon 5th Apr 2021 at 10:21am

PRIME Minister Boris Johnson is expected to unveil a traffic light system for foreign travel in an update on measures for easing Covid restrictions in England reports the BBC.

The prime minister is to make a series of announcements on changes to the rules at a Downing Street briefing. 

More detail might be given on the possible use of Covid certificates as well as on international travel.

Mr Johnson is first expected to meet the cabinet to sign off the next stage of easing the lockdown in England.

This will see non-essential shops reopen and pubs and restaurants start serving outdoors from 12 April.

Other changes in stage two of England’s roadmap include:

  • Close-contact services such as hairdressers and barbers can reopen
  • Gyms and spas can reopen, as can zoos, theme parks, libraries and community centres
  • Members of the same household can take a holiday in England in self-contained accommodation
  • Weddings attended by up to 15 people can take place

Mr Johnson will be joined by chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and England’s chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty at the Downing Street briefing at 17:00 BST.

The government has also announced plans for everyone in England to be given access to two rapid coronavirus tests a week from Friday, in an expansion of its testing programme.

Currently foreign holidays are banned in the UK, with £5,000 fines in England for people trying to travel abroad without a good reason.

Under the current plan for easing restrictions, the earliest date people in England could go abroad for a holiday would be 17 May and the government’s Global Travel Taskforce is not due to report back until 12 April.

The report will make recommendations on how to facilitate the return of international travel while managing the risk from imported cases and variants, and could potentially propose a later date for the resumption of foreign holidays.

Health minister Edward Argar said the government was acting “very carefully and cautiously” due to the risk of importing new variants.

Asked on BBC Breakfast if Europe was likely to be on the “caution list” of destinations due to a surge in cases, Mr Argar said the thing the government did not want to see “as the vaccination programme is working so well” was “new variants getting imported into the country”.

He said at the moment ministers were “very much focused” on the gold standard PCR tests “in the context of travel” and suggested the model where travellers paid for their own tests would continue.

Mr Johnson is unlikely to set out which countries will be in each category of the traffic light system in his briefing later.

Imperial College London scientist Prof Neil Ferguson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme testing everyone from European countries would be “sensible”, rather than “some of the ‘red list countries which are far away”.

He said there was “concern” over the proportion of cases of the South African variant, which might undermine the UK’s vaccine programme, in some European countries such as France and Luxembourg.

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