Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed the next stages of easing lockdown in England can go ahead as planned from 17 May, including the return of international travel.
No 10 has confirmed that Step 3 of the lockdown roadmap, which also includes the reopening of indoor hospitality, will take place no earlier than 17 May, following a further review of the data and the four tests.
However, Mr Johnson has called a Downing Street press conference on Friday (14 May) after Public Health England (PHE) confirmed that four people have died from the India Covid variant, which is spreading in parts of the UK.
The PM is expected to explain what the UK government is doing to control the variant.
What time will the PM speak?
Boris Johnson will host a coronavirus press conference from Downing Street at 5pm on Friday (14 May).
A spokesman for the Prime Minister said he will be joined by England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty.
What is he expected to announce?
Mr Johnson is expetced to speak about plans to control the India Covid variant which is spreading across part of the UK, with London and the North West seeing the biggest rise in cases.
Surge testing is now under way in areas of the North West of England, where cases of the Indian variant of are increasing, and the government is also considering implementing ‘surge vaccinations’ in some of the worst affected areas, to allow people to get their Covid vaccination earlier to prevent further spread.
Asked if the lifting of lockdown restrictions will continue as planned, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi told LBC’s Nick Ferrari that this Monday’s reopening of indoor meet-ups “is still on”.
When pressed on whether the plans for 21 June, when all legal limits on social contact are due to be lifted, could be paused, he said: “The way we don’t have to do that is by everybody doing their bit, by taking the two tests a week, doing your PCR test in those areas, and to isolate, isolate, isolate.
“We have got to break the cycle of infection, because one of those big tests was infection rates have to be suppressed, and the other big test is variants.
“If those cause a problem, then the tests will fail. The four tests have to be met for June 21.”
What will change from 17 May?
Mr Johnson confirmed it is safe for the next stage in the lockdown roadmap to be eased on 17 May as planned.
In Step 3, all of the most high-risk sectors will be able to reopen, with Covid-secure guidance in place.
This includes the reopening of:
- indoor hospitality
- remaining outdoor entertainment, such as outdoor theatres and cinemas
- indoor entertainment, such as museums, cinemas and children’s play areas
- remaining accommodation, such as hotels, hostels and B&Bs
- adult indoor group sports and exercise classes
- some large events, including conferences, theatre and concert performances and sports events
- international travel, subject to review
Weddings, receptions, funerals, and commemorative events, including wakes, can also go ahead from this date with up to 30 attendees.
A broader range of stand-alone life events will also be permitted, including bar mitzvahs and christenings.
Hugs with family and friends will also be allowed from next week.
What are the plans for resuming travel?
The UK government published its ‘green list’ of holiday destinations last week, ahead of the reopening of foreign travel on 17 May.
A new risk-based traffic light system will be introduced from this date, which will see countries ranked as either red, amber or green.
This rating will be based on a range of factors, including the proportion of the population that has been vaccinated, rates of Covid infection, emerging new variants, and the country’s access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.
Travellers returning to the UK from “green” rated countries will not be required to self-isolate, although pre-departure and post-arrival Covid tests will still be needed.
Those returning from counties classed as “amber” or “red” will be required to self-isolate or enter quarantine.
Popular holiday destinations, including Spain, France and Greece, are not on the green list, although the government will review the list every few weeks.