There is “absolutely no question” of people having to show a vaccine passport to go to the pub or hairdresser when lockdown eases further on Monday, the Prime Minister has said.
Boris Johnson has confirmed the next stage of lockdown lifting can proceed as planned, and he said he did not think, based on the current data, that there would be any deviation from his road map out of lockdown.
And on Covid “passports”, he told a Downing Street briefing on Monday: “On Covid status certification, as we prefer to call it, the most important thing to say to everybody listening and watching is there’s absolutely no question of people being asked to produce certification or a Covid status report when they go to the shops or to the pub garden or to their hairdressers or whatever on Monday.
“And indeed we are not planning that for stage three either, May 17 as you know we are hoping to go for the opening up of indoor hospitality and so on.
“We are not planning for anything of that kind at that stage.”
However, he acknowledged that some measures may be required for when larger events – and particularly theatres – begin to reopen.
On the latest lockdown lifting measures, Mr Johnson added: “The net result of your efforts and of course the vaccine rollout is that I can today confirm that from Monday April 12, we will move to step two of our road map.
“Reopening shops, gyms, zoos, holiday campsites, personal care services like hairdressers and of course beer gardens and outdoor hospitality of all kinds.
“And on Monday 12, I will be going to the pub myself and cautiously but irreversibly raising a pint of beer to my lips.”
He said that nothing in the present data led to any thoughts of deviating from the planned “road map” out of lockdown.
However, he added: “But it is by being cautious, by monitoring the data at every stage and by following the rules – remembering hand, face, space, fresh air – that we hope together to make this road map to freedom irreversible.”
The next stage:
Asked what the future will look like after June 21, Mr Johnson told a Downing Street press conference: “I think a great deal depends on the continuing success of the vaccine rollout and us continuing to satisfy the four tests.
“If things continue to go well, I do think for many people in many ways, life will begin to get back to at least some semblance of normality.”
He added: “A world in which we continue to have testing is not going to be too onerous.”
The Prime Minister said he regularly uses quick-result tests before visiting somewhere to check whether he has coronavirus as he urged the public in England to take up the offer of free tests.
Boris Johnson told a press briefing: “I think lateral flow testing will be a great advantage to us all as we go forward.
“I do a lateral flow test before I go out on a visit to test whether or not I might conceivably be infectious – I think it is a sensible thing to do.
“The NHS is now offering, as I say, these free tests and I think people should use them.”
Mr Johnson said there were “ethical and practical issues” with vaccine passports but some test events will be launched in the next few weeks.
He told a Downing Street briefing on Monday: “I want to stress there are complicated ethical and practical issues as I think I said last time raised by the idea of Covid status certification using vaccination alone.
“Many people will be for one reason or another unable to get a vaccine, for medical reasons for instance, or perhaps because they’re pregnant.
“So you have to be very careful how you handle this and don’t start a system that is discriminatory.
“But obviously we are looking at it – we want to be going ahead in the next few weeks with some test events, some pilot events. Big events, getting 20,000 people into Wembley on May 15, that kind of thing.
“Getting people back into theatre, that will unquestionably involve testing to allow the audience really to participate in the numbers that people want.”
Mr Johnson said he was hopeful international travel could resume next month but he did not want to make “hostages of fortune”.
He said: “Obviously we are hopeful that we can get going from May 17, we are hopeful.
“But I do not wish to give hostages to fortune or to underestimate the difficulty we are seeing in some of the destination countries people might want to go to.
“We don’t want to see the virus being reimported into this country from abroad.
“What we are going to do, the global travel taskforce is going to report back later this week, we will then being setting out well before May 17 what is reasonable.”
What do the scientists say?
Professor Chris Whitty told a Downing Street press conference on Monday that data from across the UK showed an estimated 60% reduction in symptomatic disease in those who had been vaccinated.
He added there was also an 80% reduction in hospitalisations among those who had received their first dose.
Prof Whitty said: “That makes two points, firstly that these vaccines are highly effective, but secondly, they are not completely effective.
“And it is absolutely essential that everybody, as the Prime Minister has said, who is called for a second booster dose goes to take that offer up because it will increase the level of protection and almost certainly increase the duration of protection as well.”
Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said he expects to see more vaccine trials in children in the coming months.
Asked whether there was a risk that Covid-19 could mutate to affect children and whether there will be a vaccine for children, Sir Patrick said: “There’s no evidence that the virus is going to mutate specifically to affect children.
“What may happen is as more and more people become immune to the virus through vaccination is that the virus will try and get around that and try to escape the vaccine. That’s a normal process that viruses do so we expect that over time which is why over time it may be necessary to update the vaccines, maybe every year or every couple of years.”
He added: “In terms of vaccines for children, that is being looked at and it will be the same vaccines, the Pfizer study read out last week that they’re looking at this in children, and so I expect to see more trials of vaccines in children over the next few months.”