Boris Johnson is planning a Covid testing blitz that will send home-swabbing kits to millions of homes and businesses when lockdown is eased.
NHS Test and Trace will dish out more than 400,000 lateral flow tests every day to get to ‘a new normal’, it was claimed.
No10 will also unveil a new slogan — ‘Are you ready? Get testing. Go’ — ahead of the reopening of schools next month, encouraging people to get swabbed.
Ministers are hoping well-known faces will front it to help persuade people to get a Covid-19 test even if they do not have symptoms.
Meanwhile, reports suggest any full lockdown lifting is a way off as sources say daily cases need to be below 1,000 – compared to the 10,000 currently.
‘Are you ready? Get testing. Go’ will reportedly be a new campaign launched ahead of the reopening of schools next month. Pictured: A nursery staff member at Little Stars Childcare in Staffordshire holds a swab stick on Monday
Ministers are hoping well-known faces will front it to help persuade people to get a Covid-19 test even if they do not have symptoms. Pictured: An advert for a testing kit in Manchester this week
The testing surge of delivering 400,000 kits a day – three million a week – will be spearheaded by NHS Test and Trace and the Royal Mail, the Times reports.
Officials expect schools to return on March 8, followed by shops and universities late in April, as well as the hospitality sector at the start of May.
Pupils and their parents could be getting tests twice a week by the time they return and it is understood the same will apply to teachers.
It is said there will be a further surge in testing between April and May as lateral flow tests are rolled out to businesses to help people return to work.
One minister said: ‘The vaccination programme is going better than we could have hoped, but testing is the key to getting the economy going again.’
Lateral flow tests are already available to firms open during lockdown with more than 50 workers.
It comes amid dire warnings lockdown will not be fully lifted until cases drop to just 1,000 a day, despite daily infections currently still over 10,000.
The PM’s exit plan from restrictions – published next Monday – are not expected to outline an exact timetable.
It is believe it will instead put forward regular reviews to stop the country opening up again until cases plummet to their August level.
Analysis suggests it will take until the start of April for infections to fall to the required amount per day.
But this does not take into consideration schools reopening next month which will likely further spread the virus.
A Whitehall source told the Telegraph: ‘For any significant relaxation of lockdown, household mixing and reopening of pubs, case numbers have to be in the hundreds, not thousands.
‘The numbers are coming down quite fast, but the plan is likely to be high level, and will set out the tests that have to be met for restrictions to be released.
‘There is real reluctance about committing to specific dates, without knowing what the case numbers are doing.’
Separate reports say leisure businesses may not return to ‘broadly normal’ until July under the PM’s roadmap out of lockdown.
The blueprint being discussed by ministers and industry leaders would allow restrictions to be eased only at four-weekly intervals.
Separate reports say leisure businesses may not return to ‘broadly normal’ until July under the PM’s (pictured on Monday) roadmap out of lockdown
The gradual approach means traders will have to wait until at least Easter – early April – for a limited restart (file photo)
The gradual approach means traders will have to wait until at least Easter – early April – for a limited restart.
This is likely to include the reopening of holiday lets and larger hotels, with dining rooms still closed. Sports such as golf and tennis could resume.
Pubs, bars and restaurants will have to wait until early May under the plans, with a maximum of two households allowed to sit together indoors and the rule of six applying outside.
The next stage, in early June, would see the rules for pubs and restaurants relaxed with the rule of six extended indoors.
The hospitality and domestic holiday industries could be allowed to return to normal in July – with social distancing.
Ministers will not make a final decision on the timetable until this weekend when they are presented with the latest data on the spread of the virus.
Mr Johnson will unveil the plan on Monday.
But the blueprint is the most detailed outline of the Government’s thinking so far. It appears to confirm that – contrary to the demands of some Tory MPs – the Prime Minister is determined to be cautious, with plenty of ‘headroom’ to adjust to any resurgence of the virus.
The fact that the rule of six and social distancing are expected to remain in force until well into the summer indicates the extent of the worries over new mutations.
It was also revealed office staff are expected to be told to keep working from home when the Prime Minister unveils his roadmap.
He is not expected to set a firm date for when employees should return to their desks, meaning that the ‘work from home if you can’ message will continue for the foreseeable future.