London: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a planned reopening of the economy would take place next week, with the opening of all shops, gyms, hairdressers and outdoor hospitality areas in England.
With the vaccine programme rolling out rapidly across the UK and infection numbers falling, Johnson said England would proceed to Stage 2 of his roadmap out of lockdown from April 12. Johnson said he would go to the pub himself for a pint.
People should continue to work from home when they could and minimise domestic travel, the government said. It also confirmed that the government was looking at a COVID-status certification system, or vaccine passport, to help reopen larger events.
Johnson also said that it was too soon to say whether international summer holidays can go ahead this year, a remark suggesting a planned reopening of outbound travel could be pushed back beyond May 17.
Britons are among Europe’s highest spending tourists so the fortunes of the continent’s summer season and the travel industry, hit hard by restrictions imposed on travel because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will depend on when tourists can return to the beaches, cafes and tavernas of southern Europe.
Asked about summer holidays, Johnson told reporters he did not want the virus to be reimported into the United Kingdom from other countries so it was not possible to give more clarity as the global situation was evolving so fast.
“Obviously we are hopeful that we can get going from May 17th, but I do not wish to give hostages to fortune or to underestimate the difficulties that we are seeing in some of the destination countries that people might want to go to,” he said. AFP