On Monday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said everyone in England will be in a position to take a COVID-19 test twice a week in a development that sees the government’s vaccine rollout continue at a rapid pace.
Johnson is expected to confirm plans to re-launch international travel and open sections of the economy later today. The new mass testing program is expected to break the chain of transmissions and spot cases without symptoms.
With much of Europe entering new lockdowns as a way to mitigate surging cases, Johnson has set out a staggered plan to ease restrictions in the coming months.
“As we continue to make good progress on our vaccine programme and with our roadmap to cautiously easing restrictions underway, regular rapid testing is even more important to make sure those efforts are not wasted,” said Johnson in a statement.
“The tests would be sent to homes or businesses, or picked up from pharmacies or test centres.” Said Junior health minister Edward Argar while adding, he said he was confident people would isolate.
“People are doing the right thing,” said Argar to Sky News.
The increased testing will help health officials to track the pandemic with the country gradually reopening from a strict four-month lockdown.
Johnson is expected to confirm that all retail, outdoor hospitality and hairdressers can reopen on April 12 in England; Britain will use a traffic-light system for countries based on infection and vaccination levels will be used for international travel.
Vaccine passports are also seeing trial runs for mass events.
Under the current plan international travel will not resume until May 17, at the earliest.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are following their own, similar paths out of a strict lockdown that was imposed at the beginning of this year.