Boris Johnson to make four big Covid announcements TODAY on holidays, vaccine passports, lockdown and social distancing

BORIS Johnson is set to make four big Covid announcements today as he lays out England's next steps out of lockdown.

The PM is tipped to reveal more on holidays, vaccine passports, lockdown and social distancing. Here is what to expect.

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Lockdown

Restrictions began to ease on March 29 with outdoor gatherings allowed in groups of up to six.

But today, Boris Johnson is due to announce whether Britain can move forward to the next stage of unlocking.

This will see pub beer gardens, gyms, hairdressers and non-essential shops reopen for the first time in months.

The PM had previously said this would be no earlier than April 12 – but he would give businesses at least a week's notice before reopening.

So today's announcement should reveal more – and hopefully given the green light to the next phase of lockdown lifting.

Outdoor venues such as zoos, drive-in cinemas and other outdoor hospitality venues will also hopefully be opening up to the public.

And campsites and holidays may also open once more, while weddings and civil partnerships can have up to 15 people attending.

Holidays

At the moment going on holiday is illegal – and travelling abroad without a valid reason in England could land you a fine of ÂŁ5,000.

But today, the PM will give an update on the reviews into travel abroad and the possibility of Covid passports.

He will set out how the certificates will work, but is also expected to shed light on the new traffic light system.

Summer holiday hotspots will be ranked under the lights system — letting Brits fly to "green" countries with low Covid rates and strong vaccine rollouts.

The move will see Bahrain, Dubai, Iceland, the Maldives and the US top destination wish lists, but nations with high virus cases and slow jab rollouts will require more quarantining.

Mr Johnson is expected to give the green light for hols abroad from May 17.

Under the traffic lights plan:

GREEN: Anyone returning from these countries must take a pre-flight lateral flow test at their own cost, then take a "sequencing test" within days of landing to check for new strains.

AMBER: Like green, but those entering the UK must isolate at home for ten days after arrival. They can get out after five days with a negative test paid for privately.

RED: Arrivals must isolate on their return in an authorised hotel at their own cost — as they do currently.

So far, the US, Gulf states and Israel would be classed as "green" thanks to their jab rollouts. Most of Europe is poised for Amber status.

Travel was meant to be restored "not before" May 17. But there is growing concern in Whitehall that this is too soon amid a third virus wave globally.

Mr Johnson is also under pressure from devolved leaders to delay reopening Britain’s borders.

Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford said May 17 was over-optimistic and did not reflect the risk of re-importing the virus and new variants from other parts of the world.

He added: "When the Prime Minister speaks next week I hope he will say that date is having to be pushed back."

Vaccine passports

Ministers have concluded their work on how the vaccine certificates may work and will meet this morning ahead of the announcement to decide whether to proceed.

They will be required to visit certain countries abroad, but it is not currently known how they might be rolled out domestically.

Essential buildings such as hospitals, GP surgeries and supermarkets are likely to be excluded from any such scheme. They could be optional for other businesses.

The PM stressed again last week any moves towards vaccine passports for domestic use would involve a three-pronged approach of vaccines, tests or proof of antibodies.

It was feared people who could not have the vaccine for medical reasons would not miss out on a trip to the pub or restaurant – but this morning it was reported the plans have been ditched.

Only those attending mass gatherings, such as festivals or major sports events, will be required to provide proof of a jab, test or natural immunity.

The PM said: “We are doing everything we can to enable the reopening of our country so people can return to the events, travel and other things they love as safely as possible, and these reviews will play an important role in allowing this to happen.”

Covid passports will be trialled in the UK this month.

NHS chiefs are developing a new app members of the public will have to show to gain access to sports stadiums, theatres, festivals and nightclubs.

Those without a smartphone will get a paper certificate.

The system will be trialled at nine pilot events over the next few weeks, where experts will also explore how high-tech ventilation and Covid tests on entry are working.

Mr Johnson will study the feedback to help decide how to manage other large-scale gatherings as restrictions are lifted.

Liverpool will be a key test centre for the opening up of the rest of the country — with four pilot events being held at a comedy club, a cinema, a nightclub and a business conference arena from next week.

And some fans will be allowed at Wembley for the Carabao Cup final on April 25, the FA Cup final on May 15 and a semi-final on April 18.

The World Snooker Championship in Sheffield and a mass participation run at Hatfield, Herts, are also involved.

Social distancing

The social distancing review will also look at letting firms that use vaccine passports relax the rules a bit more.

Today Mr Johnson is likely to give an update on the government's current thinking and offer when loosened restrictions might come in.

Plummeting virus cases and soaring jab numbers are expected to influence the decisions.

More than 31m Brits have received their first dose of the vaccine, with almost 5m having received both their first and second.

And the UK's daily Covid cases have fallen to the lowest level since mid-September – as the infection toll increased by 3,402 today.

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