Boris Johnson is set to unveil plans for a £ 7 billion mass testing revolution tomorrow – cutting the time for those who need to self-isolate to a week if their results are negative.
The move allows thousands to get back to normal life even after coming into contact with an infected person.
Dozens of millions of fast turnaround tests are also being made available to areas that are at the highest level of the new tiered system of Covid restrictions.
Boris Johnson will today unveil plans for a £ 7 billion mass testing revolution. This cuts the time to a week for those who need to self-isolate if their results are negative
The program will use new “lateral flow tests” that have been tested in Liverpool and can produce results within 30 minutes.
Ministers believe they could revolutionize the testing and tracing system that has tried to get people to self-isolate for the entire 14 days.
With a new system, those who come in contact with an infected person can have a Covid test every day for a week.
If they test negative, they can live their lives as usual. After seven days of negative testing, they are released from the system. Trials of the program begin this week in Liverpool, where the Army has been involved in conducting the first mass tests of an entire city.
If successful, the project will roll out to NHS staff next month before being available to everyone in January.
Fast turnaround tests are also used to allow nursing home visits this winter. Downing Street confirmed last night that ministers hope to allow residents to have regular visits from two family members.
The program will use new “lateral flow tests” that have been tested in Liverpool and can produce results within 30 minutes
Named visitors are tested twice a week. Negative tests allow people to visit loved ones and remove social distancing requirements.
A spokesman for Number 10 said, "The key is that visitors can have physical contact, such as a hug or holding hands with loved ones."
Before a national rollout planned for next month, tests have already started in 20 nursing homes.
Nurses caring for people in their homes will also be offered weekly tests starting today.
The mass destiny initiative is part of a new Covid winter plan announced today by the Prime Minister.
It is expected to cost £ 7 billion, bringing the total bill for NHS Test and Trace to £ 22 billion this year.
Ministers believe that mass testing could play a crucial role in helping society reopen in the coming months.
Plans are also being made to develop so-called "freedom passes" that allow people to participate in events such as live theater and sports games.
However, these will probably only be available in the new year.
In the short term, the tests will mainly be used to bring the pandemic under control.
Bulk tests will be made available to all areas that fall under the very high risk category of the updated three-tier system that PM will be implementing today.
The mass destiny initiative is part of a new Covid winter plan that is expected to cost £ 7 billion. That brings the total bill for NHS Test and Trace to £ 22 billion this year
According to sources, studies in Liverpool had shown the tests were effective in detecting cases in people with no symptoms, breaking the chain of transmission, and reducing the number of cases faster.
Weekly tests are also made available to people in high-risk occupations, including prisons and food processing plants.
Teams of people who will deliver the new vaccines in the coming months can also be tested regularly.
Tests have already started twice a week in the NHS to identify asymptomatic cases and prevent outbreaks in hospitals.
For nursing home staff, tests will be doubled from weekly to twice a week starting next month. Nursing home residents are offered weekly tests, not once a month.
Universities are also offered testing capacity to test students who are planning to travel home to their families for Christmas.
Shops and gyms will open next week … and family can come over for Christmas
Stores and gyms will get the green light to reopen next week, Boris Johnson announced today.
The Prime Minister will confirm that the second national lockdown in England ends on December 2nd when a new system of tiered Covid restrictions is put in place.
He's also about to sign a UK Christmas deal with Scotsman Nicola Sturgeon and other decentralized executives that will allow families to see friends and loved ones.
Stores and gyms will get the green light to reopen next week, Boris Johnson announced today
The proposal would allow up to three households to congregate for Christmas, provided they don't meet with anyone else during that time. The period is five days, starting on Christmas Eve and ending on December 28th the bank holiday.
Travel and overnight stays are permitted across the UK to allow friends and families to reunite over the Christmas break. But there will be no relaxation of the rules for the New Year.
Government sources said last night that after the UK lockdown ended on December 2, non-essential stores across the country will be allowed to reopen in hopes that retailers can save some of their vital Christmas trade.
Gyms can be reopened on all levels and outdoor sports can be resumed. According to the plan signed by Cabinet last night, most of the land will be in the top two levels, where the hospitality sector will remain severely restricted.
According to sources, "most people" would be classified into levels two and three, in which all indoor socializing with other households is prohibited – possibly until spring.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak admitted yesterday that Christmas "won't be normal," but said ministers wanted to give families a break without risking a third wave of the virus.
Public Health England warned last week that five days of stricter restrictions would be required for each day of relaxation over Christmas. But the Chancellor downplayed the warning, saying it was "difficult to be that specific".
Gyms can be reopened on all levels and outdoor sports can be resumed
Police chiefs warned last week that they were not interested in enforcing the rules for family gatherings for Christmas. Government sources said the prime minister will urge people to show "common sense" to ensure that the Christmas relaxation does not spark a rebound in some cases.
Mr. Sunak said the new tiered system was "harder" than the previous one. It is expected until spring when ministers hope that the introduction of vaccines will bring life back to normal. The ministers will announce on Thursday which areas of the country will go to which levels.
Government scientists have warned that Tier 1 restrictions have proven ineffective over the past month.
As a result, tens of millions of people are being put into Levels two and three, which have much stricter restrictions. In tier 3, pubs and restaurants can only offer take-away meals, people are not allowed to stay outside the house and travel outside the region is frowned upon.
Downing Street said last night that mass tests will be made available in all Tier 3 areas to detect infections early and slow the spread of the virus.
Mr Johnson will give Members of Parliament the details of the plans this afternoon. In an overnight message, he said the UK was "out of the woods" but suggested that there were reasons for cautious optimism.
"People's selflessness in following the rules makes a difference," he said. “The virus doesn't spread nearly as quickly as if we don't wash our hands, keep social distance, wear masks, and so on. And in England, where nationwide measures went into effect earlier this month, the surge in new cases is slowing.
Johnson is also on the verge of signing a UK Christmas deal with Scotsman Nicola Sturgeon and other decentralized executives that will allow families to see some friends and loved ones
“We are not out of the forest yet. The virus is still prevalent in communities across the country and remains both far more contagious and far more deadly than the seasonal flu. As the number of tests and vaccines nears deployment, the regional tiered system will help bring the virus back under control and keep it there. "
The government announced that an additional 341 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 on Saturday, bringing the UK total to 54,626.
questions and answers
Will the lock continue?
No. Boris Johnson will confirm today that the lockdown ends December 2nd. It will be replaced by a system of regional restrictions on three levels.
Will the levels be the same as before?
No. The government will revert to a three tier system, but Chancellor Rishi Sunak said it will be "tougher" than it was before the lockdown.
What were the levels before?
There were three levels of restrictions in England. Tier One only included national restrictions like the 10 p.m. curfew and the rule of six, which makes gatherings of more than six people illegal unless they're all from the same household or bubble. Tier 2 added a ban on indoor socializing, while Tier Three restricted pubs and restaurants to offer take-away service and ban wedding receptions and overnight stays.
The decision will depend on a number of factors including the number of Covid cases, local NHS capacity, and local R number – the rate at which the virus is spreading
What will be reopened when the lockout ends?
Shops are expected to reopen to allow Christmas trading. Gyms are reopening and outdoor sports are likely to resume. Betting shops will likely close on the higher levels and eateries will likely only remain take-out in parts of the country, with restrictions on houses mixing elsewhere.
Can i see family and friends?
The rule of six remains. Being together with other households indoors remains forbidden on the top two levels and is likely to be restricted on the bottom level as well.
What about christmas
Mr Johnson is pushing for a five-day break from the rules that allow people from up to three different households to mingle.
How will they choose which tier my area will go into?
Ministers will announce on Thursday which levels will apply to which parts of the country. The decision will depend on a number of factors including the number of Covid cases, local NHS capacity, and local R number – the rate at which the virus is spreading. However, government sources have said that "most of the people" will be on the top two levels.
Does the curfew remain at 10 p.m.?
No. Pubs and restaurants will stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m., but customers will have time to drink and leave until 11 p.m.
How long will the new tier system last?
Government sources said it is expected to stay until spring.