Restrictions we will STILL face after lockdown lifts on June 21 from Covid passports to twice-weekly testing
BRITS will still face some restrictions even after lockdown is lifted on June 21 – including Covid passports and twice-weekly testing.
PM Boris Johnson announced the latest step on the road to freedom last night, saying pubs, shops and hairdressers will reopen on April 12.
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The roadmap is set to end with caps on wedding attendances lifted and nightclubs being reopened on June 21.
However, government scientists have warned that face masks and social distancing rules may have to stay in place until next year.
SAGE says while Covid jabs will stop the vast majority of people being struck down they're "not good enough" to see all rules lifted without risking a surge in cases.
Scientific advisers claimed that "baseline measures" would need to stay in place until next year.
These are some of the restrictions that Brits could be forced to follow after June 21.
A twice-weekly free rapid Covid test will be available by Friday.
The Prime Minister unveiled the mass testing blitz, which will be offered to everyone in England.
People will be able to collect or order batches of their free Covid tests – which provide results in just minutes – whether they have symptoms or not.
So far the rapid kits have been mainly aimed at office staff and those who have to leave their homes to work, alongside the NHS and schools.
But everyone will soon be able to order kits at home, get them through their workplaces, at schools, or via the network of testing centres which has been set up across the country.
They have been hailed a game changer in the fight against the pandemic, but not everyone is convinced by twice-a-week testing.
Jon Deeks, a professor of biostatistics at the University of Birmingham and one of the authors of last month's review on rapid tests, described the move as "beyond reckless".
He said there was “very little data supporting the sensitivity of the test in people without symptoms”.
A Liverpool pilot scheme showed that it picked up less than half of 70 known coronavirus cases.
And Prof Deeks added another study detected only three per cent, reports The Times.
He said: “The argument the government has put is that the ones that it detects are the ones who are infectious but the evidence behind this is very weak, and there is a lot of evidence that the test misses many.”
Susan Michie, a UCL professor of health psychology, said she was also concerned people would be wrongly reassured by a negative test.
Vaccine passports could be introduced to reopen travel for British holidaymakers, proving they have had both Covid jabs.
They could also hold information regarding negative Covid tests or proof of antibodies.
Members of the public may have to show the app to gain access to sports stadiums, theatres, festivals and nightclubs.
Those without a smartphone will get a paper certificate.
The government has hired a Danish company to develop the app which could also, for example, allow grandparents to scan family members into their birthday parties.
The system will be trialled at nine pilot events over the next few weeks, where experts will also explore how high-tech ventilation and Covid tests on entry are working.
Mr Johnson will study the feedback to help decide how to manage other large-scale gatherings as restrictions are lifted.
The PM said: “We are doing everything we can to enable the reopening of our country so people can return to the events, travel and other things they love as safely as possible, and these reviews will play an important role in allowing this to happen.”
Only those attending mass gatherings, such as festivals or major sports events, will be required to provide proof of a jab, test or natural immunity.
Liverpool will be a key test centre for the opening up of the rest of the country — with four pilot events being held at a comedy club, a cinema, a nightclub and a business conference arena from next week.
And some fans will be allowed at Wembley for the Carabao Cup final on April 25, the FA Cup final on May 15 and a semi-final on April 18.
The World Snooker Championship in Sheffield and a mass participation run at Hatfield, Herts, are also involved.
Scientific advisers will use evidence from the nine pilots to assess transmission risks in different settings.
An insider said: “These events will not only be used to try out the new Covid passport.
"We’ll have lots of eyes and ears and systems gathering a mass of data."
All pandemic limits on social contact were due to be abolished by June 21 as part of the final stage of the four-step route out of the health crisis.
It was hoped that music festivals, sports events and nightspots would then reopen and that families and friends could also get together in large numbers.
However, scientific advisors today claimed that "baseline measures" – including some social distancing – would need to stay in place until 2022.
UK chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said he expected regular hand washing and the recommendation for people to stay home from work if they feel ill to become "baselines" of social distancing in the future.
"On social distancing, I think one has to understand what that might mean longer term," he told the Downing Street press conference this evening.
"And it probably means things like hand hygiene and the fact people will take time off if they get ill and stay at home rather than going into work, testing to know if you've got it or not.
"Those sorts of things are likely to be important baseline measures going forward."
England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, asked about when hugging and other interactions could resume, said current coronavirus rates were still too high.
"The number of people who actually have the virus at the moment is about one in 370 so we really want to get those rates down further before we start to feel that society as a whole has a low level of Covid," he said.
Experts also said face masks may continue to be required into next year, even as Covid cases fall.
Masks are currently required in supermarkets, shops and on public transport.
Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary said passengers may be required to wear masks on board flights until at least 2022.
Mr Johnson warned that coronavirus cases will rise, and has urged Brits to get their jabs as “we don’t know how strong vaccine shield will be".
The Prime Minister said the soaraway vaccines rollout is to thank for getting Covid under control – but cases could still soar.
He said: "We can see the waves of sickness afflicting other countries and we've 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 they will, and that's why we're saying please get your vaccine or your second dose when the turn comes."
And Professor Whitty said the UK will "definitely" see another wave of Covid cases.
He predicted a third wave will sweep in eventually, despite Britain's record-breaking vaccine blitz.
He told the Public Health Conference 2021: "The path from here on in does look better than the last year.
"There are going to be lots of bumps and twists on the road from here on in.
"There will definitely be another surge at some point whether it's before winter or next winter, we don't know.
"Variants are going to cause problems, there will be stockouts of vaccines and no doubt there will be multiple problems at a national level but also at a local level – school outbreaks, prison outbreaks, all those things that people are dealing with on a day-to-day basis."
Boris refused to say if foreign holidays will restart on May 17 as the traffic light system was confirmed yesterday.
Different countries are set to be graded green, amber or red according to their vaccinations, infection rates, the prevalence of variants of concern, and their genomic sequencing capacity.
Mr Johnson insisted he is desperate to “get the country flying again” but said families should wait before booking a foreign getaway.
He added: “We are hopeful we can get going from May 17, but I do not wish to underestimate the difficulty we are seeing in some destinations people might want to go to.
“We don’t want to see the virus being reimported from abroad.”
The anticipated government update on summer holidays confirmed that a traffic-light system will be brought in which carves the world up into red, amber and green zones.
Only holidaymakers heading to green countries with good vaccine roll-outs and low Covid rates will be allowed to dodge quarantine.
People heading to low-risk "green" countries will not need to isolate on return to the UK, but they will need to take Covid tests before and after they arrive home.
Travellers arriving into the UK from "amber list" countries will have to self-isolate at home and take Covid tests pre-departure and on Day 2 and 8 after they arrive.
It has been suggested that vaccinated travellers may be able to avoid certain restrictions, but that has not been confirmed.
Travellers from "red list" countries will have to isolate in a quarantine hotel for 11 days at a cost of £1,750, as well as taking Covid tests pre-departure and on Day 2 and 8 after they arrive.
Currently people arriving in the UK from abroad are required to self-isolate for 10 days.
Brits may need a third dose of the Covid vaccine in the autumn.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said scientists are working on new vaccines to target new variants, one of which is believed to be made by Novavax.
The jabs currently being rolled out from Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca – and already given to more than 30million Brits – were designed to tackle the original coronavirus strain.
But while the vaccines do work against new variants, studies have shown they are less effective.
Specifically the variants that evolved in South Africa and Brazil have mutations that allow them to dodge some immunity built from vaccine or prior infection.
More variants are expected to evolve in the future, prompting scientists to start work on tweaking the current jabs to ensure they can tackle future strains.
Boris Johnson has insisted he wants the current lockdown to be the last.
Boris said he's "optimistic" about the future because "science is now unquestionably in the ascendancy over the disease".
But he warned: "Some things are very uncertain, because we want this lockdown to be the last and we want progress to be cautious but also irreversible."
Pressed on his plans, Boris said he "cant give that guarantee" that this lockdown will definitely be the last.
But he also revealed ministers see easy mass testing, rather than vaccine passports, as the way to reopen large venues like nightclubs and theatres.
He said: "We'll look at everything, but what we're thinking of at the moment is more of a route that relies on mass vaccination plus rapid testing for the toughest nuts to crack, such as nightclubs or theatres, those parts of the economy we couldn't get open last year.
"I think that will be the route that we go down and that businesses will go down."
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