Coronavirus news – live: PM to set out ‘traffic light’ system for travel as vaccine passport trials to begin

Boris Johnson says Britain can look forward to ‘brighter days ahead’

Boris Johnson will set out plans for a “Covid status certification” scheme, which will begin trials this month at several pilot events, as airline chiefs urge him to allow international holidays within weeks.

It is hoped that the scheme will enable the safe return of mass events, such as sports matches, conferences and night clubs, without the need for social distancing. However, many MPs have voiced concerns over the idea of “vaccine passports” and will want to study the proposals closely.

The prime minister is expected to announce more details on Monday and said the government is doing “everything we can” to allow mass events to resume amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The heads of British Airways, easyJet, Jet2.com, Loganair, Ryanair, Tui and Virgin Atlantic, as well as trade body Airlines UK, said in their letter – published by The Sun – that they recognised restriction-free universal travel may not be possible by that date, but added that “there can be no economic recovery without aviation”.

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PM to outline ‘traffic light’ for foreign travel

Boris Johnson is set to outline a traffic light system central to the government’s plan to open up foreign travel while preventing Covid variants finding their way into the UK.

Ministers have said the current lockdown ban on international travel will remain until at least 17 May, with the government’s global travel task force due to report on recommendations for next steps on 12 April.

But on Monday the PM is expected to set out a system under which countries are assessed across a range of factors and assigned one of three risk ratings.

Peter Stubley4 April 2021 19:34

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Vaccines go on sale in Pakistan

People lined up to pay around £57 for two doses of a coronavirus vaccine in Pakistan this weekend, after the country permitted commercial sales for the first time.

“I am very happy to get it, since now it is required for travelling,” Saad Ahmed, 34, told Reuters today after he got his Russian Sputnik V shot at an upscale private sector hospital in Karachi.

The government is offering free jabs to healthcare workers and those aged over 50 but so far only around 800,000 doses have been administered – or just 0.2 per cent of the population.

Pakistan, population 216 million, has so far reported 687,908 infections and 14,778 deaths.

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Residents wait for a commercial dose of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine at a private hospital in Karachi

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Residents wait for a commercial dose of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine at a private hospital in Karachi

(REUTERS)

Peter Stubley4 April 2021 19:22

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No crowds for Pope’s Easter message

Before Covid, tens thousands of people would gather in the Vatican City to hear the Pope’s Easter blessing.

This time – like last year – just 200 or so faithful were allowed to attend the service at St Peter’s Basilica and crowds were banned from gathering in the square outside.

During his address, Pope Francis used his traditional Easter Sunday address to denounce the “scandalous” wars which continue to rage during the coronavirus pandemic.

Peter Stubley4 April 2021 19:03

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Comedy club caught up in vaccine passport ‘backlash’

The owner of a Liverpool comedy club taking part in the pilot events has said he received abusive messages after the government wrongly suggested it would require people to show “vaccine passports”.

Paul Blair, who runs the Hot Water Comedy Club, told the Guardian that people on social media accused him of “medical apartheid” and told him to “catch Covid and die”.

“We are NOT and will NEVER be part of vaccine passport program,” the club tweeted.

The event is taking place M&S Bank arena on 16th April with no social distancing. Covid testing will take place both before and after the show.

Peter Stubley4 April 2021 18:28

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‘First post-Covid club event’ for 3,000 in Liverpool

Three thousand people will also be able to attend the UK’s “first post-Covid nightclub” event in Liverpool later this month.

The party will start at Circus in a warehouse at Bramley-Moore Dock on 30 April, with another 3,000 to attend the following day.

People who want to attend must live within a Liverpool postcode and will have to test negative for Covid-19 before entering., according to owner Yousef Zaher. They will also have to take a second test some time after the event.

Mr Zaher added: “Maybe it’ll go down historically in some way, but for me the important thing is to get out of Dodge the best we can, try and get Covid behind us.”

Peter Stubley4 April 2021 18:02

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Liberty condemns arrest of protest observers under Covid regulations

Two independent observers were arrested under Covid regulations at Kill the Bill demonstrations on Saturday, according to human rights group Liberty.

The charity condemned the move as an “intimidatory tactic to deter protest” and said it is now taking legal action against the Metropolitan Police.

More than 100 people were arrested at the protest in London for a range of offences including breach of the peace, violent disorder, assault on police and breaches of Covid legislation.

Peter Stubley4 April 2021 17:38

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10K race weekend is Covid ‘milestone’

One of the government’s pilot events for the return of spectator sport is a 10km race weekend in Hatfield, Hertfordshire.

The organisers of the Reunion 10k say they are working with scientists to test different protocols at three separate runs on 24 and 25 April.

Each race will involve 3,000 runners and 3,000 spectators and everyone attending – participants, spectators and staff – will be required to take a Covid-19 test both before and afterwards.

Everyone will be asked if they have been vaccinated but this is not a requirement to attend, according to organisers LME.

Hugh Brasher, event director of LME, said: “We are doing three different ones to progressively learn from each one.

“So the protocols with each one, there will almost certainly be a slight difference on each one of them, and that is the detail that we’re currently working out with scientists and DCMS (Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport).”

Mr Brasher said the event is an “important milestone”, adding: “We absolutely believe that this is a key step to a lot of big events happening over the whole of the summer period.”

The other pilot events include the FA Cup and Caraboa Cup finals at Wembley and a nightclub in Liverpool.

Peter Stubley4 April 2021 17:18

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Mass brawls on Edinburgh’s Meadows leave police officers hospitalised

Police have hit out at politicians for “offloading predictable problems” onto law enforcement after an officer was hospitalised with a facial injury while responding to mass brawls at an Edinburgh park.

As warm weather coupled with the end of stay-at-home orders in Scotland drew thousands of people to the Meadows on Saturday, footage showed groups of young men fighting in various brawls.

Police Scotland said on Sunday that three people had so far been charged in connection with anti-social behaviour and a serious assault, and said officers were searching for others involved in various incidents.

My colleague Andy Gregory reports:

Kate Ng4 April 2021 16:52

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Police searching for 100 people who attended illegal music event in Stanford-le-Hope

Police are working to identify around 100 people who were present at an unlicensed music event in Stanford-le-Hope on Saturday night.

Officers responded to reports of a large gathering on land off Buckingham Hill Road at around 10.50pm yesterday. The group dispersed as officers arrived.

Music equipment was seized from the scene.

Chief inspector Richard Melton said: “We will continue to respond to reports of clear and blatant breaches of the regulations like this unlicensed music event.

“Even though the people who attended left the scene when they saw our officers arrive, we are now working to identify those who were there in order to issue them with fines for breaching the Covid-19 regulations.

“Over the Easter bank holiday weekend officers and staff will be carrying out additional patrols across the county to keep you safe and respond to your calls for help.

“If everyone keeps playing their part, we can stay focused on catching criminals. it’s what we’re here for and we know it’s what you want us to do.”

Kate Ng4 April 2021 16:45

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2,297 new coronavirus cases and 10 further deaths in UK

The government said a further 10 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Sunday, bringing the UK total to 126,836.

Separate figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies show there have been 150,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

The government also said that, as of 9am on Sunday, there had been a further 2,297 lab-confirmed cases in the UK.

It brings the total to 4,359,388.

Numbers for cases and deaths over Easter will be affected by incomplete data plus a longer than usual lag in reporting.

Kate Ng4 April 2021 16:25

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