England set to ease lockdown restrictions; international travel stays on hold

Published on : Tuesday, April 6, 2021

On Monday, April 5, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that England is likely to begin a planned reopening of the economy starting April 12 with the opening of all shops, gyms, hairdressers and outdoor hospitality areas in England. However, Prime Minister Johnson informed that it is too early to announce if international summer holidays can go ahead this year.

The statement possibly suggests that a planned reopening of outbound travel could be pushed back beyond May 17, if required. With the vaccine programme rolling out rapidly across Britain and infection numbers falling, the Prime Minister announced that England could proceed to Stage 2 of his roadmap out of lockdown from April 12. He confirmed that the government was looking at a COVID-19 status certification system, or vaccine passport, to help reopen larger events and to travel.

Johnson said in another press statement that though he was hopeful that non-essential international travel would restart from May 17, he does not want to underestimate the growing number of COVID-19 cases and several associated difficulties that can be noticed in some of the destination countries that people might want to go to. According Johnson’s original plan, international travel would not resume until May 17 at the earliest.

Countries on the amber list would require self-isolation and those on the red list would require quarantine. It has also been suggested that countries on the green list, requiring testing before and after travel, could include Portugal, Malta, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the United States. It has also been informed that people should continue to work from home where they can and minimise domestic travel.

Britain is also planning to use a traffic-light risk system for countries once non-essential international travel resumes, but the government said it was too early to say which countries could be given the green light that would only require coronavirus tests before and after travel. The government stated that considering the latest situation with COVID variants and the evidence about the efficacy of vaccines against them, the country will confirm in advance whether non-essential international travel can resume on May 17, or whether a longer will be required before lifting the outbound travel restriction.

On the other hand, scientists advising the British government shared that the next step to ease COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in England is not expected to put unsustainable pressure on the health service even if it results in a rise of COVID-19 infections. The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) said that any resurgence in hospital admissions and deaths following Step 2 of the Roadmap alone is highly unlikely to put unsustainable pressure on the NHS. But whether England can proceed to steps 3 and 4 of lockdown easing, which could see formal restrictions on social contact end in June, will depend on data following each step.

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