UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed restaurants, pubs and shops will open again as England’s lockdown is eased next week, but the ban on foreign travel may remain for longer. The earliest date for resuming non-essential international travel will be May 17 and officials warned Monday that a further delay could be required if coronavirus infections continue to surge elsewhere in the world. A decision will be taken nearer the time, they said. “We can’t be complacent – we can see the waves of sickness afflicting other countries, and we’ve seen how this story goes,” Johnson said at a press conference in London on Monday.

“We still don’t know how strong the vaccine shield will be when cases begin to rise, as I’m afraid that they will.” In England, falling hospitalisation and death rates and the successful rollout of vaccines, which has seen more than 31.5 million people given at least one dose, means the country is on course to continue gradually lifting restrictions that have been in place since early January.

That means from April 12 nonessential stores will resume trading, pubs and restaurants will serve customers at patio tables again, personal services such as hairdressers will return, and outdoor attractions including zoos will reopen to visitors. As the government makes plans for living with the virus in the longer term, a new system of Covid passports is being developed and everyone in England is being urged to take free, rapid virus tests twice a week.

Ministers hope Covid status passports will eventually make it easier for events with live audiences to resume and to ease travel restrictions and social-distancing rules for thousands of businesses. Some pandemic measures may be needed beyond the end of the government’s current roadmap for easing lockdown, officials said. The British prime minister set out the plans alongside interim findings from four policy reviews at a press conference in London on Monday.