PM updates nation on foreign travel, covid passports and latest lockdown easing

5 April 2021, 13:40 | Updated: 5 April 2021, 17:57

Boris Johnson is set to announce a new system for foreign travel
Boris Johnson is set to announce a new system for foreign travel. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

Boris Johnson will update people with the latest details on the easing of lockdown in England, including a traffic light system for foreign travel and possible plans for a Covid-19 "passport" scheme to allow access to mass events.

Mr Johnson will update the nation at 5pm today in a Downing Street briefing alongside chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and England's chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty.

Mr Johnson will also confirm whether non-essential shops can reopen and restaurants will be able to start serving outdoors from April 12 in line with his roadmap.

From April 12, hairdressers and gyms can reopen, outdoor leisure activities like zoos can also open their gates again, people from the same household can go on staycations in self-contained holiday accommodation and weddings with up to 15 guests can take place.

READ MORE: Twice-weekly Covid tests for all in England to stop outbreaks 'in their tracks'

READ MORE: Boris Johnson to unveil 'traffic light' rating system for foreign trips

READ MORE: What is the PM expected to announce?

Downing Street has confirmed that a risk-based "traffic light" system will be introduced for foreign travel as restrictions relax - but people in England are still advised not to book summer holidays abroad.

Ahead of the PM's announcement, No10 said: "We want to see a safe return to international travel, but it is crucial we continue with our cautious approach in light of third waves in some countries and the risk posed by variants of concern."

How would the traffic light holiday plans work?

When travel is permitted, a red, amber or green rating will be assigned to countries, with Covid tests required pre-departure and post-arrival from all destinations.

Travel from green countries will not require quarantine, while arrivals from red and amber countries will still be required to quarantine or self-isolate upon arrival.

Each country will be assigned a risk level based on a range of factors, including vaccination numbers, case rates, Covid variants and the country's "access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing".

The announcement follows a review by the government's Global Travel Taskforce, which has been looking into how the UK's borders can be reopened safely.

Reacting to the review the prime minister said: “We have made huge strides over the past few months with our vaccine programme and everyone in the country has made huge sacrifices to get us to this stage in our recovery from Covid-19.

“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.”

Boris Johnson is set to announce a new system for foreign travel
Boris Johnson is set to announce a new system for foreign travel. Picture: PA

The government said all their reviews will "continue to update on their findings in the coming weeks".

The rules on international travel are likely to relax at different paces across the UK.

Last Saturday, First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford told LBC's Matt Frei he "will be taking a tougher approach than the UK government has so far" on foreign travel.

"Out of all the things in the UK roadmap the thing that has worried me the most is the date of the 17 May for the reopening of international travel."

He added: "Back in September the difficult time we had in Wales was because we had people returning to Wales from France, from Spain, from Germany, from Italy, from Bulgaria, from Turkey, bringing coronavirus back with them.

"They had gone on a summer holiday to places where the virus was in greater circulation and they ended up bringing it back to Wales.

"I don't want to see everything we have done over the last couple of months put at risk by a premature reopening of foreign travel. This is the year to stay at home - come on holiday to Wales."

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Rapid Covid testing

No10 has also announced that everyone in England will be offered two free rapid Covid-19 tests per week, as part of new measures to curb outbreaks.

From Friday, with everyone in England able to order regular rapid tests online, or collect them from a workplace, school, or local test site.

Pharmacies will also offer free boxes of seven tests to use twice a week, under a new "pharmacy collect" service that will be launched.Boris Johnson said the rollout of lateral flow tests - which provide results in around 30 minutes - will help stop outbreaks of coronavirus "in their tracks" as rules ease.