Tens of thousands of Britons will be offered their first real piece of freedom in the coming month when the government starts lawsuits against non-socially detached mass events.
Up to 20,000 spectators are admitted to football matches and other sporting events, while thousands can attend nightclubs, theaters and comedy clubs for the first time in a year.
People involved in the process only need to provide a recent negative test and don’t need to distance themselves socially from strangers.
A review of future Covid safety precautions, published by Downing Street tonight, said subsequent pilots will “ attempt to include vaccination and acquired immunity data, ” demonstrated by producing a positive PCR test taken in the past six months .
Nine events will be used for a one-month trial period, including an FA Cup semi-final and the 21,000-fan final at Wembley, a Liverpool nightclub that would seat 3,000 indoors, as well as three 10km outdoor runs for 3,000 athletes and a maximum of 3,000 spectators.
Officials are also in talks with the organizers of the Brit Awards to allow thousands of fans to watch the music event, hosted by comedian Jack Whitehall, at the O2 Arena in London on May 11.
The first event kicks off next week at the Hot Water Comedy Club in Liverpool and the project will run until May 15. A second phase of pilots will take place from the end of May.
The pilot events are intended to advance the plan of reopening the roadmap to remove social distance on June 21. Liverpool has been chosen for several events due to the city’s advanced testing infrastructure.
The first events will start next week and the project will run until May 15th. They are intended to advance the roadmap’s reopening plan to scrap social distance on June 21.
The trials will be led by scientists, assisted by researchers within events to ‘track and study’ crowds.
Some events will be used to test Covid certificates, others to explore how ventilation, people flow, and entry testing can help audiences return without taking social distance.
Researchers will also study crowd ‘behavioral’ responses after a year of social detachment.
What did Boris Johnson announce at today’s press conference?
The next step to ease the lock continues as planned: The prime minister confirmed that non-essential shops, gyms, hairdressers and libraries in England will reopen April 12, while pubs and restaurants will be allowed to serve customers outside. Overnight stays outside the UK are permitted. Most outdoor environments and attractions, such as zoos and theme parks, can also be reopened.
Foreign trip: A traffic light system will be rolled out when international travel is allowed again, but the prime minister declined to commit to his intended May 17 roadmap date for resuming flights. The new system will see countries rated green, orange, or red based on data including vaccination levels and Covid-19 cases. Return trips from Green List countries are quarantine-free, although people still have to take tests before their trip and when they return. Ministers said it is “too early to say” which countries will be green.
Vaccine passports: The Prime Minister revealed the initial findings of a Whitehall investigation into the use of ‘Covid status certification’. The documents will combine vaccination, testing and immunity data and will be used to determine access to large-scale events. The government has left the door open on the documents used to access pubs and restaurants.
Working from home and socializing: Initial findings from a government investigation suggest that both WFH and social distancing could continue after “ Freedom Day ” on June 21 – the last date in the roadmap. The review said it looks at ‘how and when the 1m + rule can be safely lifted or changed’ as well as other restrictions, such as working from home. It stressed that the conclusion “will depend on the most recent data and evidence on the state of the pandemic”, while “the degree of relaxation of social distance measures” will be linked to the success of vaccine passports. The findings do not include a specific target date by which the rules will be lifted.
Return to spectator events: Ministers will host a series of pilot programs in different locations to test the best ways to bring crowds back to live events. The pilots will be closely linked to the vaccine passports initiative, although the first events will focus entirely on using test data to provide access. Participating venues include the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible in Sheffield and the Circus nightclub in Liverpool. Ministers also hope to allow a crowd of up to 20,000 people to Wembley for the FA Cup final on May 15, with a second wave of pilots starting at the end of May.
Back to normal: A new article published today by the government’s SAGE committee said life will not return to normal this summer, even if the prime minister’s roadmap goes completely according to plan. SAGE sources warned that while vaccines prevent the vast majority of people from getting sick and dying from the coronavirus, they are “not good enough” to see all the curbs lifted “without a major epidemic.” The experts argued that “ baseline measures, ” including some form of social distancing and masks, should remain in effect at that time until next year. They said they were ‘reasonably certain’ that Covid will be manageable by then.
A board of advisers, made up of independent scientists and public health experts, will review the data and present the results to ministers at the end of May.
The government’s safety review also said that clinical and ethical experts are underway to provide appropriate exemptions for people for whom vaccination is not advised and repeat testing would be difficult.
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson said tonight that Covid passports would not be rolled out in hairdressers, gyms or open-air cafes and restaurants on Monday, when those locations reopen as part of phase two of the lockdown easing plan.
But the review claimed evidence of vaccination was “likely to become a part of our lives” until the end of the pandemic.
The review, released tonight, pointed out that even if the government didn’t establish and regulate a system of ‘Covid status certification’, venues could do it themselves under existing law.
“Even without government intervention, COVID status certification is likely to become a part of our lives until the threat of the pandemic abates,” he said.
In the UK, companies and other organizations can ask clients for proof of Covid status to access their buildings, provided they comply with equality laws.
The government believes that, in most cases, introducing a ban on this would be an unjustified violation of the way companies choose to secure their buildings – although … there may be exceptions where the government must intervene to prevent a Ensure fair access to essential services.
“It is therefore good that the government provides a way to easily demonstrate COVID status, to ensure that UK citizens and residents are not denied the opportunity to travel or attend certain locations or events.”
Mr Johnson revealed that he would head to the pub on April 12 and “gently but irreversibly lift a glass of beer to my lips,” saying nothing would change in May either.
But a decision on whether people later need a passport to do this, rather than social distancing, has been kicked further in the way to allow for more “ industry consultation ” as part of the overhaul of the rules for social distancing and taking into account the equities and other effects’.
Mr. Johnson told the briefing tonight, “ As for the Covid status certification, as we prefer to call it, the most important thing to say to everyone who listens and watches, there is absolutely no question of people being asked for certification or a Covid status report go to the shops or to the pub garden or to their hairdresser or whatever on Monday.
‘And indeed we do not plan to do that for stage three, May 17, as you know, we hope to open up indoor hospitality and so on. At that stage, we don’t intend to do anything like that. ‘
The review added, ‘It is possible that the Covid status certification could also play a role in reducing social distance requirements in other settings that people visit more often, such as in catering establishments.
However, the government recognizes that this has significant implications for businesses and their customers, so this will be further explored in consultation with the industry as part of the review of social distance rules and taking into account the similarities and other impacts.
“For now, companies must continue to plan for reopening in a manner that follows the latest Covid-Secure guidelines, and certification is not required for reopening as part of Step 2 or Step 3.”
John Foster, the CBI’s policy director, said, “Covid status certificates play a role in some of the more challenging parts of the economy, such as large-scale events.
‘The government has listened to the concerns of the industry and is trying to use them in a targeted manner. These first trials will be followed with great interest.
“Every introduction should be accompanied by rigorous guidelines and enforcement to help companies deal with ethical, legal and practical implementation challenges.”