Sir Iain Duncan-Smith warned Britain was on track to be left in a “demi-lockdown” even when the roadmap is completed.
“Now the scientists are saying the real issue is variants or a third wave,” he told the Mail. “They want to keep Project Fear going because they are enjoying the control they have, and ministers have caved in to them.
“The result is we are headed for a hellish demi-lockdown, where we have to be tested all the time, carry a vaccine passport everywhere and are under the constant threat of being locked down again.”
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said that coronavirus passports will not be required for when hospitality reopens outdoors next week, or when it reopens indoors in May.
Describing the documentation as “vaccine certificates”, as every Government minister has been at pains to point out, he told Sky News: “Next Monday, you can go to a beer garden and have your beer – there is no requirements for vaccine certification or passports that are being referred to.
“In May, you will be able to go inside the pub and enjoy your drink, and there is no question of a vaccine certification being asked for.”
Two-way travel bubble for Australia and New Zealand
New Zealand has approved quarantine-free travel with Australia, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Tuesday, completing a two-way corridor for travel between the largely Covid-free neighbours.
“I can confirm that quarantine-free travel will begin in just under two weeks, at 11:59pm on April 18,” Ms Ardern announced after the date was confirmed by her cabinet.
The travel bubble comes more than a year after New Zealand closed its doors in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and six months after Australia allowed Kiwis to fly into selected states without the need to quarantine.
Ms Ardern described it as a world leading move between New Zealand, with just 26 Covid-19 deaths in a population of five million, and Australia with fewer than 1,000 deaths in a population of 25 million.
“I cannot see or point to any countries in the world that are maintaining a strategy of keeping their countries Covid-free whilst opening up international travel between each other,” she said.
“That means in a way we are world leading.”
“I very much appreciate the arrangement the New Zealand government has come to today,” Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison told a press conference.
“We welcome them back as indeed Kiwis will be welcoming Aussies.”
The idea of carrying papers to prove we’re vaccinated won’t work, won’t be secure and will prompt a backlash from customers, writes Matthew Lynn.
Your terraces are empty. The dance floor at your nightclub is covered in dust. The kit at your gym is getting rusty, and the clippers at your barber shop may well be lost by now. After month on month of lockdown, it is easy to understand why businesses will be rushing to try out the Government’s planned new Covid passports. After all, it will mean they can finally open their doors again, bring the staff off furlough and welcome back a few customers.
But hold on. We can all debate the moral implications of Covid passports, and whether they are an infringement of our liberty or not. The real problem, however, is that they are a terrible deal for the companies expected to implement them. They won’t work; they won’t be secure; the data risks are not worth running; there will be a backlash from customers; and, at the end of the day, it is not the job of private companies to police public health policy.
The start of quarantine-free travel between the neighbouring nations comes as a relief to families who have been separated by the coronavirus pandemic as well as to struggling tourist operators.
Both countries have been successful in stamping out the spread of the virus.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says health officials believe the risk of the virus being transmitted from Australia is low and that travel is now safe.
“The bubble will give our economic recovery a boost and represents a world-leading arrangement of safely opening up international travel while continuing to pursue a strategy of elimination and keeping the virus out,” Ardern said.
Australia had previously allowed New Zealanders to arrive without going into quarantine but New Zealand had taken a more cautious approach, requiring travelers from Australia to spend two weeks in quarantine upon arrival.
North Korea will not attend this year’s Tokyo Olympics because of the coronavirus pandemic, Pyongyang’s sports ministry said, blowing the final whistle on Seoul’s hopes of using the Games to restart talks with its nuclear-armed neighbour.
The isolated North’s participation in the last Winter Games, hosted by the South in Pyeongchang, was a key catalyst in the diplomatic rapprochement of 2018.
Leader Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo-jong attended as his envoy in a blaze of publicity, and the South’s President Moon Jae-in seized the opportunity to broker talks between Pyongyang and Washington that led to a series of high-profile meetings between Kim and then US president Donald Trump.
But Pyongyang’s announcement puts an end to Seoul’s hopes of using the postponed Tokyo Games, due to begin in July, to kick off a reset in the now deadlocked talks process.
North Korea’s Olympic Committee “decided not to participate in the 32nd Olympic Games in order to protect players from the world public health crisis caused by Covid-19”, said the Sports in the DPR Korea website, run by the sports ministry in Pyongyang.