| 28 May 2024, Tuesday |

Johnson to ease lockdown and restrictions in England

Boris Johnson is expected to reveal a traffic light system for foreign travel in an update on measures for easing Covid restrictions in England.

The prime minister is to make a series of announcements on changes to lockdown rules at a Downing Street briefing.

More detail might be given on the possible use of Covid certificates to access services or events domestically. He will also say if non-essential shops can reopen and restaurants can start serving outdoors from 12 April.

Other changes in stage two of England’s roadmap include:

Johnson will be joined by chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and England’s chief medical officer Prof Chris Whitty at the Downing Street briefing at 17:00 BST.

The government has also announced plans for everyone in England to be given access to two rapid coronavirus tests a week from Friday, in an expansion of its testing program.

Currently foreign holidays are banned in the UK, with £5,000 fines in England for people trying to travel abroad without a good reason.

Under the current plan for easing restrictions, the earliest date people in England could go abroad for a holiday would be 17 May.

Health minister Edward Argar said the government was acting “very carefully and cautiously” due to the risk of importing new variants.

Asked on BBC Breakfast if Europe was likely to be on the “caution list” of destinations due to a surge in cases, Argar said the thing the government did not want to see “as the vaccination program is working so well” was “new variants getting imported into the country”.

He said at the moment ministers were “very much focused” on the gold standard PCR tests “in the context of travel” and suggested the model where travelers paid for their own tests would continue.

Johnson is unlikely to set out which countries will be in each category of the traffic light system in his briefing later.