Boris Johnson struck a bullish tone as he held an Easter Monday press briefing in Downing Street, confirming that the relaxation will proceed on April 12 as planned. Non-essential retail, gyms and hairdressers can get up and running, while bars, restaurants and cafes will be able to serve customers customers. However, the government’s SAGE experts and a series of reviews published this afternoon cast doubt on the prospects of returning to normal by the June 21 previously proposed for a full lifting.
New evidence released by the government suggested that the relaxation could spark a fourth peak in outbreak. A paper indicated that ‘baseline measures’, including some form of social distancing and masks, would need to remain in place until this time next year. Meanwhile, separate updates on a series of reviews stopped short of confirming that non-essential foreign travel will be allowed from the earliest mooted date of May 17, with a traffic light system of restrictions due to come into force when the blanket ban lifts. Easing of social distancing rules and tough work from home guidance could also be contingent on controversial plans for ‘Covid passports’ – with the government refusing to rule out the curbs staying in place well after the theoretical end point of the roadmap on June 21.