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London unveils new rules for international travel

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to announce a controversial health passport project on Monday.

Encouraged by the improvement in the health situation in the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled on Monday his strategy to open the borders and respond to pressure to allow the British to leave for the sun after a long confined winter.

Overwhelmed at the start of the year, British hospitals saw the number of patients with Covid-19 disease drop over the weeks of confinement and progress in vaccination, on which the most bereaved country in Europe (nearly of 127,000 dead) founded all his hopes.

As a major step in deconfinement looms in England next week with the reopening of non-essential businesses such as hairdressers and restaurant terraces, the Conservative government wants to maintain a cautious approach. It is based on mass screening offered to the entire population, a controversial health passport project but also on strict border controls.

Travel abroad is prohibited as it is at least until May 17, except for essential reasons, and the authorities fear importing variants of the coronavirus likely to resist vaccines whose first dose has already been injected at the almost all people over 50.

Despite calls to take advantage of theGreat British summerBy staying on vacation in the UK, many Britons, especially the vaccinated, now want to be allowed to go, as they do in droves every summer, to the beaches of the Mediterranean.

After having gathered his ministers, Boris Johnson must hold a press conference in the afternoon. It will present a traffic light system to classify countries according to the degree of progress of their vaccination, their rate of contamination or the presence of worrying variants.

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Passport “discriminatory»

Green destinations will be exempt from quarantine on return – however, a test before departure and after arrival will be required – unlike orange and red countries. Currently, all travelers arriving in the United Kingdom must quarantine for ten days at home, or, for countries at risk, in a hotel at their own expense. Borders are closed for non-residents coming from a country on the red list.

Downing Street, however, indicated that it was still premature to establish a list of countries, and continues to advise against bookings abroad. In the Times, the association of tour operators expressed concern that they would have to wait another month before knowing how the countries would be classified: “This makes it very difficult to implement our programs. It doesn’t happen overnight“.

Professionals are also worried about a constantly changing list, potentially in the middle of stays such as when a quarantine was imposed last summer on returns from Spain where there were thousands of tourists.

To keep the virus under control, the government also plans to test a health passport system for mass gatherings in England, such as football matches and indoor events. This certificate would indicate that a person has been vaccinated, is negative for coronavirus or has antibodies. It will not be required in public transport and non-essential shops, the reopening of which is scheduled for April 12 at the same time as the terraces of pubs.

Several pilot tests will be launched from mid-April, in particular for the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium, which will also host the Euro 2019 final on July 11. But this health passport project is also making people cringe, and it was greeted with hostility by more than 70 British MPs from across the political spectrum, who judged it “discriminatory– enough to potentially revert it in the event of a vote in Parliament.

A Labor opposition leader, Rachel Reeves, said on Monday that she had “lots of reservationson the device, believing that the priority should be vaccination. Additional measure to facilitate the reopening of society and “break the chains of transmission“, the inhabitants of England will be able from Friday to access two rapid screening tests per week.

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