Boris Johnson confirms that non-essential retail and gyms will reopen next week

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson

UK PRIME MINISTER Boris Johnson has confirmed that Covid-19 restrictions will be eased in England as planned next week.

In his briefing, Boris Johnson said: "We're hopeful but I do not wish to give hostages to fortune. we don't want to see the virus being reimported into this country".

The global travel taskforce review warned "the state of the pandemic overseas, and the progress of vaccination programmes in other countries" meant it was impossible to say yet whether foreign holidays would be allowed from 17 May, the date earmarked as the earliest possible for the resumption of worldwide trips.

How has the travel industry responded?

Airport Operators Association chief executive Karen Dee said she was "disappointed" the update "continues to suggest significant barriers to global travel, and may push back the date of restart beyond May 17". Countries on the amber list would require self-isolation.

Airlines such as easyJet, Ryanair and British Airways, plus holiday groups such as TUI, hope to avoid a second lost summer but Covid-19 cases have risen in continental Europe.

"On Monday the 12th, I will be going to the pub myself - and cautiously but irreversibly raising a pint of beer to my lips", Johnson said.

The government has however asked people to work from home whenever required and minimise domestic travel.

Four weeks after England took its first step out of lockdown by reopening schools, Johnson said Britain's vaccination program was proceeding well and infections were falling.

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The government also is testing a system of "Covid-status certification" - often dubbed "vaccine passports" - that would allow people seeking to travel or attend events to show they either have received a coronavirus vaccine, tested negative for the virus, or recently had Covid-19 and therefore have some immunity.

"I want to stress that there are complicated, ethical, and practical issues. raised by the idea of Covid status certification. using vaccination alone", Johnson said.

"You've got to be very careful in how you handle this, and don't start a system that's discriminatory".

"A great deal depends on the success of the vaccine, if things continue to go well, for many people in many ways might get some semblance of normality", Johnson said, adding,"But we still need a lot of data".

"One of the things we don't want to see - and just as the vaccination programme is working so well - is getting new variants or risking new variants getting imported into this country", United Kingdom health minister Edward Argar told the BBC, in reference to the "very cautious" next phase of lifting lockdown restrictions.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), which advises the government, said that the move would not overwhelm the state-run National Health Service (NHS) even if infections rose assuming the country's successful vaccine programme stays on track.

The trials will last until mid-May, when the next phase of lockdown easing is scheduled before a complete easing of restrictions by June 21 under Johnson's roadmap.

The modelling did not account for the possible emergence of vaccine-escaping variants or looser travel rules.

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