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Published on Monday, February 22, 2021

Travel hopes pinned to PM's announcement later today

All eyes will be on the Prime Minister's 'roadmap' for easing out of coronavirus restrictions later today, but it's widely feared that any plans to open up travel will be much further down the list.

The travel industry has been calling for details on testing and vaccine certification to get travel moving again in time for summer, with groups urging the Government to use today's pivotal briefing to give hope to the battered travel industry.

Despite fears that travel will be low on the list of priorities, Julia Lo Bue-Said, CEO of Advantage Travel Partnership, said she was 'optimistic' about what would come out of the PM's much-antcipated announcement.

Taking to Twitter this morning, she said: "There is much reason to be optimistic today and many businesses, employees and loved ones will be waiting for the detail around what we know already but this will need to go hand-in-hand with measures to support the most vulnerable people, businesses, society and livelihoods."

All schools in England are set to reopen on 8 March as part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's 'cautious' four-part plan to lift the coronavirus lockdown, according to the BBC.

Boris Johnson will set out his 'roadmap' for lifting current lockdown measures later today, addressing the House of Commons at 3.30pm and leading a Downing Street news conference at 7pm.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said up to six people or two households will be allowed to meet outdoors from 29 March.

Rules will be lifted in stages and four conditions must be met at each stage. The first stage will be split in two parts, he said.

From 8 March all schools will open and recreation in a public space, such as a park, will be allowed between two people, meaning they will be allowed to sit down for a coffee, drink or picnic.

From 29 March, outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households will be allowed. Outdoor sports facilities will reopen and organised adult and children's sport, such as grassroots football, will also return.

From 29 March it's also believed people will once again be able to travel out of their areas, although guidance will likely still recommend staying local and overnight stays will not be permitted, reports the BBC.

"We will be cautious about this approach so that we do not undo the progress we have achieved so far and the sacrifices each and every one of you has made to keep yourself and others safe," the BBC quoted Boris Johnson as saying.

The four conditions that must be met at each phase of lockdown easing are: the coronavirus vaccine programme continues to go to plan; evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently reducing the number of people dying with the virus or needing hospital treatment; infection rates do not risk a surge in hospital admissions; and new variants of the virus do not fundamentally change the risk of lifting restrictions.

MPs will be given the chance to vote on the regulations enabling England's road map in the coming weeks.

Sky News reported Mr Zahawi saying the UK's vaccination programme is 'beginning to really bear fruit' and has allowed the government to unveil its plans for lifting lockdown.

He told Sky News the 'evidence looks good' on Covid vaccines, which have now been given to one in three adults in the UK.

Mr Zahawi added: "We wouldn't be in this place this morning... if we're not confident that actually the vaccine programme is beginning to really bear fruit."

By Louise Longman, Contributing Editor (UK)

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