“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.