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Boris Johnson Confirms Shops And Pubs Will Re-Open Next Week As Four Tests For Next Stage Of Covid Roadmap Are Met

Boris Johnson revealed the four tests had been met to move onto the next stage of the roadmap (BBC)

5 min read

The Prime Minister has confirmed outdoor hospitality and non-essential retail can re-open from next week after the government’s four tests to move to the next stage of the roadmap to unlock have been met.

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference Boris Johnson said significant parts of the indoor economy can also welcome customers again from 12 April as coronavirus cases and deaths continue to fall.

He said: "The net result of your efforts and of course the vaccine rollout is that I can today confirm that from Monday April 12, we will move to step two of our road map.

"Reopening shops, gyms, zoos, holiday campsites, personal care services like hairdressers and of course beer gardens and outdoor hospitality of all kinds.”

Johnson added: "And on Monday 12, I will be going to the pub myself and cautiously but irreversibly raising a pint of beer to my lips."

But the PM also urged caution, pointing out there are no changes to social contact rules and many restrictions will remain in place until at least 17 May.

"We think that these changes are fully justified by the data, which shows that we are meeting our four tests for easing the lockdown,” he said.

"But - and you know I'm going to say this - we can't be complacent.

"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.”

Encouraging people to take up the new offer of rapid coronavirus tests at home this Friday he added: "And please use the free NHS tests even if you don't feel ill."

He made the announcement after a meeting of the “Covid-O” group of senior ministers and scientific advisors earlier today, with the plans discussed on a Cabinet call this afternoon.

They looked at the latest Covid-19 data to assess the impact of the first step, which began when schools reopened on 8 March.

The decision was based on four tests:

  • The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully
  • Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
  • Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
  • The risks are not fundamentally changed by new Covid variants.

The government said a further 26 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Monday, bringing the UK total to 126,862.

They also said there had been a further 2,762 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, and while they cautioned the numbers for Easter will be affected by a longer than usual lag in reporting, the seven-day averages for both metrics are at they lowest levels since early September last year.

The next step in the roadmap, which people and businesses are being given seven-days notice of, will see non-essential retail, personal care premises such as hairdressers and nail salons back open, along with public buildings including libraries and community centres.

Indoor leisure facilities such as gyms will also reopen, but only for use by people on their own or in household groups, as will most outdoor attractions like zoos, theme parks, and drive-in cinemas.

Self-contained accommodation such as campsites and holiday lets can also reopen, but hotels and places where guests share facilities with other households, must wait until the next step on the roadmap on 17 May.

Hospitality venues can also re-open, but only outside, and customers must order, eat and drink while seated, and be in groups of no more than six or two households.

But unlike in previous lockdown easings there will be no need for customers to order a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks, and no curfew, but wider social contact rules will apply – such as mask-wearing and one-way systems when being shown to a table or going to the toilet.

While funerals can continue with up to 30 mourners, the number of people able to attend weddings, receptions and commemorative events such as wakes will rise to 15, while the number of care home visitors will also increase to two per resident.

The government are still calling on people to work from home where they can, and minimise domestic travel, while international holidays are still illegal.

Johnson also gave an update on the four ongoing Whitehall reviews into getting life back to normal post-pandemic.

The PM confirmed a Covid-status certification system will be developed over the coming months to help allow higher-risk settings  such as sporting events, festivals and nightclubs to be opened up more safely and with more participants.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has suggested the UK could base theirs on a similar system in use in Israel, by modifying the existing NHS app to confirm if a person has has a Covid vaccine or a recent negative test.

Thirdly people can show if they have “natural immunity” - determined on the basis of a positive test taken in the previous six months, meaning that person has antibodies against Covid-19.

Johnson confirmed a number of pilot events are taking place from later this month where they will trial Covid certification, initially through testing alone but then through proof of vaccination and acquired immunity too.

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