Baachu Special 5.4.21

Baskar Sundaram
Baskar Sundaram

Prime Minister’s Press Conference

The Prime Minister has held a press conference, with England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty, and Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser.

Roadmap Update (England)

The Prime Minister confirmed that a week today, 12th April, England will move to Step 2 of the Roadmap for easing restrictions, including the reopening of non-essential retail.

Mr Johnson said there was “nothing in the present data,” such as a surge in cases, or a new variant emerging, which suggested that the UK will have to deviate from its current roadmap.  Professor Whitty set out details of the four tests (see slides below).

Four Reviews – Updates

The Government has published updates on the COVID-Status Certification Review; the Global Travel Taskforce; the Events Research Programme; and the Social Distancing Review (see links below).

The COVID-Status Certification Review is looking at the potential of COVID status certificates to confirm if someone currently has immunity to the virus.

The Government believes there are some settings, such as essential public services, public transport or essential shops where Covid-status certification should never be required.  Certification could play a role in settings such as theatres, nightclubs and mass events. The Government will begin trials in some of these settings.  It could also play a role in reducing social distancing requirements, for example in hospitality venues. But there will be a further consultation with the industry on this.

The PM said in response to questions that there was no question of producing such certification for Step 2 of the roadmap next Monday.  That is not “being planned for Step 3 either”.

The Social Distancing Review is exploring whether existing rules, designed to limit virus transmission, could be relaxed in different settings. This work is developing the safest approach to allow closer social contact between friends and family, safely enable greater capacity on transport, and reduce distance requirements within venues and workplaces.

International Travel

The Government is not yet in a position to confirm that non-essential international travel can resume from 17th May.  It will confirm in advance whether non-essential international travel can resume then, or whether we will need to wait longer.

When non-essential international travel does return it will do so with a risk-based “traffic light” system. This will add to the current system a new green category with no isolation requirement on return to the UK – although pre-departure and post-arrival tests would still be needed. It is too early to say which countries will be on the green list when non-essential international travel resumes.

The Global Travel Taskforce will publish its report, setting out more details on this system, later this week.

For the moment, the Government advises people not to book summer holidays abroad until the picture is clearer.

In response to questions, the PM said the Government was “hopeful” on international travel, but he did not want to “underestimate” the difficulties which might face the UK from importing the virus again from abroad.

Regular Testing

Everyone in England, including those without symptoms, will be able to take a free rapid coronavirus test twice a week.

Updates will be made to the NHS COVID-19 app in England to coincide with the offer of rapid testing for everyone.

The expanded regular testing offer for people without symptoms will be delivered through:

  • a home ordering service, which allows people to order lateral flow tests online to be delivered to their home;
  • workplace testing programmes, on-site or at home;
  • community testing, offered by all local authorities;
  • collection at a local PCR test site during specific test collection time windows; and
  • testing on-site at schools and colleges

A new ‘Pharmacy Collect’ service is also launching which will provide an additional route to regular testing. People aged over 18 without symptoms will be able to visit a participating local pharmacy and collect a box of 7 rapid tests to use twice a week at home.

Over 100,000 businesses in England have registered their interest to provide rapid tests to their employees, and the offer of free testing is being expanded to companies with over 10 workers where on-site testing is impossible.

Further information

 

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