The British government will reportedly introduce “freedom passes” and specialised passport certificates to people who have tested negative for the Chinese coronavirus, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce further regional lockdown restrictions following the end of the latest national lockdown in December.
The British prime minister will outline his plans for further localised lockdown restrictions on Monday, as well as a plan to introduce mass testing, in what the government is describing as a roadmap to some sort of normality next year.
The new normal that the British government is set to outline will reportedly include “freedom passes” for those who have two negative coronavirus tests per week. The government is also working with passport manufacturers to create coronavirus certificates for those that can prove they are free of the virus, according to The Telegraph.
The immunity certificate would be stored on people’s phones after they receive a letter, card, or document from the government on testing negative for the virus. It is thought that the pass will permit Britons to see members of their families, which is largely banned at the moment, as well as being able to travel without a mask.
A source told the paper that the certificates would “allow someone to wander down the streets, and if someone else asks why they are not wearing a mask, they can show the card, letter or an App,” adding that it would permit a person to “to see their family, and normal social distancing rules will not apply”.
It is not clear at the time of this reporting whether the government will be handing out the “freedom passes” to those who have been vaccinated.
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The idea of so-called immunity passports was first floated by the British government in April, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock saying at the time: “We are looking at an immunity certificate. People who have had the disease have got the antibodies and then have immunity can show that and therefore get back as much as possible to normal life.”
On Monday, Prime Minister Johnson will inform the British public that following the national lockdown on December 2nd, England will revert back to a regional tier lockdown system. It is believed, however, that many areas will actually face stricter lockdown restrictions than they did under the previous tier system, with the government’s SAGE group of scientists calling for more stringent measures.
The plan will also reportedly outline the regulations surrounding family Christmas gatherings, which are expected to be limited in regards to how many family members from different households can meet to celebrate the holiday.
Factories and workplaces across the country will be subject to mass testing, with new ‘lateral-flow’ tests that can provide a diagnosis within twenty minutes. It is possible that the military may carry out testing, however no formal request has been made to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) as of yet.
“It is the Prime Minister’s hope and belief that progress in mass testing can – if everyone continues to pull together – provide a way to suppress the virus and relax restrictions until a vaccine becomes available,” a Downing Street source said.
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The government will likely need the support of the left-wing Labour Party to pass the measure through Parliament, as a group of 70 Tory MPs has threatened to vote against the restrictions.
In a letter to Mr Johnson, the anti-lockdown Covid Recovery Group of Conservative MPs demanded that the government reveal the economic damage that further lockdowns would incur.
“The Government must publish a full cost-benefit analysis of the proposed restrictions on a regional basis so that MPs can assess responsibly the non-Covid health impact of restrictions,” the MPs said.
It is likely that the measures would pass through Parliament, however, as the Labour Party has consistently favoured harsher restrictions on the British public.
The leader of the new anti-lockdown Reform Party, Nigel Farage, wrote on social media: “It sounds like lockdown will not end on December 2nd as we will enter into strict regional restrictions.”
“We will be stuck with this until Easter unless the government changes approach,” Farage warned.
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