Coronavirus news - live: ‘Most of Europe’ on green list next month as summer ‘to feel a lot more like normal’

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'Don't book foreign summer holidays yet', says Liz Truss

Most of Europe and the US should move onto the UK’s “green list” next month, according to ministers.

The government is expected to announce a green list of destinations - from where arrivals into England will not have to quarantine as of 17 May - shortly, and then review this list every three weeks.

While the public await the official list, the UK has amended its travel advice to show a list of low-risk nations ahead of the expected return to non-essential travel in mid-May.

Meanwhile, epidemiologist Professor Neil Ferguson has said he feels “fairly optimistic” there will be a return to “something which feels a lot more normal by the summer”.

The expert from Imperial College London, who advises the government, also said the UK data on deaths and cases was “very encouraging” and it was unlikely the NHS would be overwhelmed after an expected rise in Covid cases in late summer.

But Professor Stephen Reicher, another expert, has warned the public to take Boris Johnson’s comments suggesting social distancing could be scrapped in summer with a “pinch of salt”.

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Most of Europe should be on ‘green list’ next month, ministers say

Most of Europe and the US should move onto the UK’s “green list” next month, according to government ministers.

This “big bang” reopening for travel is due in large part to the UK’s successful rollout of the vaccination programme, which has seen one in four Britons receive both doses of the vaccine at the time of writing.

After the initial green list of countries – from where arrivals into England will not have to quarantine as of 17 May – is announced, the list will be reviewed every three weeks.

Helen Coffey reports:

Zoe Tidman4 May 2021 11:39

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Key questions and answers on EU travel plans

Amid lots of talk about travel and the UK’s “green list” of destinations, the EU is proposing that travel restrictions are eased on their end.

But the new proposals can be implemented, modified or ignored by member countries.

Simon Calder takes a look at the key questions and answers:

Zoe Tidman4 May 2021 11:25

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85% following self-isolation rules after positive test - ONS

Around 85 per cent who test positive for Covid-19 are continuing to follow the rules for self-isolating, a new survey has suggested.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) findings - based on responses collected from adults in England between 12-16 April - found 15 per cent of people reported at least one activity during self-isolation that broke the rules, such as leaving home or having visitors for a reason not permitted under legislation.

Additional reporting by Press Association

Zoe Tidman4 May 2021 11:10

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What restrictions will ease by end of May?

A government adviser has predicted this summer will feel “a lot more normal” - if not “completely normal”.

On that note, here is a reminder of restrictions that will remain in place by the end of this month, and those that will have been lifted if all goes to plan:

Zoe Tidman4 May 2021 10:54

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‘Sensible and cautious precautions'

Professor Stephen Reicher said people will need to be careful in future, but not in a way that limits daily life.

The government scientific adviser said: “Even after restrictions go, it makes sense to have sensible and cautious precautions; not in a way that limit our everyday lives, not in a way that stops us seeing people or hugging people, but just realising, for instance, that on the whole, we are safer outside, don’t sit too close to people, open the windows.”

He added: “So we need to be sensible about this, we need to be cautious about this, and in that way I think we’re much more likely to get to a space where our lives are much more back to normal, much more tolerable, where we can meet and hug our loved ones, but don’t just hug anybody.”

PA

Zoe Tidman4 May 2021 10:21

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‘The rules will be pretty much the same all over Europe'

Here is Portugal’s tourism minister explaining the EU’s plans to restart tourism.

“The rules will be pretty much the same all over Europe,” she said.

Zoe Tidman4 May 2021 10:13

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Iceland travel

In more travel news, a British tour operator has persuaded Iceland’s prime minister to permit UK holidaymakers to be admitted on production of an NHS vaccination card.

Simon Calder, our travel correspondent, reports:

Zoe Tidman4 May 2021 10:11

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‘The British market is really important to all Europe'

Portugal’s secretary of state for tourism, Rita Marques, said the country is “taking the lead” at the European Council in negotiations aimed at opening up the European Union to UK holidaymakers.

She told BBC Breakfast: “We are really pushing hard to open up to third countries like the UK.

“I’m not going to tell you how important is the British market to Portugal. I just want to tell you that the British market is really important to all Europe, and in that sense we are ready to welcome you when you are ready to come.”

PA

Zoe Tidman4 May 2021 10:00

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Take PM’s social-distancing comments with ‘pinch of salt’, says government adviser

A government scientific adviser has said the public should take the prime minister’s announcement that social distancing could be scrapped in June with a “pinch of salt”.

It comes after Boris Johnson said there was a “good chance” that “one-metre plus” coronavirus social distancing rules could be dropped as soon as next month.

But Professor Stephen Reicher, a member of the Sage sub-committee advising on behavioural science, told BBC Breakfast: “I think we should take this with a little bit of a pinch of salt. Remember, he said it in the middle of an electioneering visit to the North of England, and clearly he wants to tell a good news story.”

He added: “He immediately qualified it by saying it depends on the data and how many infections there are and the state of things on June 21, nearly two months away.”

Prof Reicher, from the University of St Andrews, told BBC Breakfast: “Now, if a week is a long time in politics, two months is an eternity in a pandemic. Remember, two months ago in India they were declaring the pandemic was all over, now they’re having 400,000 cases a day.”

You can watch the PM’s comments about social distancing here:

Watch: 'Good chance' social distancing can end on 21 June, says Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has offered some words of hope to Britons, asserting that there is a “good chance” that “one-metre plus” coronavirus social distancing rules could be dropped as soon as next month. “It...looks to me as though June 21 we’ll be able to say social distancing as we currently have to do it, the one-metre plus, I think we have got a good chance of being able to dispense with the one-metre plus from June 21,” Mr Johnson said.A final decision on whether to bring about the rule change starting 21 June will depend on the data, he said.

Additional reporting by PA

Zoe Tidman4 May 2021 09:51

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Professor Neil Ferguson ‘hasn’t booked summer holiday abroad’ yet

Professor Neil Ferguson said he had not yet booked a summer holiday overseas, but added: “I think if for instance, by the summer, infection levels in France and Italy are the same sort of level as they are here, then there’s no risk associated with travelling overseas.

“The risk comes from going from a place like the UK with very low infection levels and going to a place with much higher infection levels and therefore having the risk of bringing infection back. If the two places are at comparable levels and that’s what the EU is saying, then there is no particular risks associated with the travel.”

PA

Zoe Tidman4 May 2021 09:44

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