Across the UK, lockdown measures remain in place, with Britons about to enter the sixth week of the Government’s lockdown. Among the measures are travel restrictions, including the suspension of flights and cancellation of holidays.
Britons are only allowed to leave their homes to buy groceries, for one form of exercise per day, to care for a relative or to attend key jobs.
While there has been talk of easing lockdown measures, officials have warned this will have to be done gradually to prevent a second peak of COVID-19.
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David Nabarro, the World Health Organisation’s special envoy on COVID-19, said it would be “perfectly reasonable” for the UK to start easing the lockdown before a full contact tracing system is up and running.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “Every government is having to make a choice and I understand that the contact tracing process is now well advanced and so that’s a reasonable time to be thinking through how lockdown can be eased, and it won’t be eased all at once, it will be eased bit by bit.”
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He added: “You don’t need to have 100 percent contact tracing in order to get the R-number down.
“The contact tracing is an absolutely essential part of reducing transmission, and getting that capacity as widely spread as possible is key to getting the transmission as low as you can.
“But you certainly can release the lockdown while you’re building up the case finding and contact tracing capacity – that’s what most other countries are doing.
“They don’t wait until everything is ready and so it’s perfectly reasonable for Britain to be thinking through these options and working our how it’s going to do the next steps.”
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When will flights resume?
Currently, the advice from the UK Government is not to undertake any travel, except for essential reasons.
This was first implemented until mid-April, however now has been extended “indefinitely”.
This has meant airlines have cancelled the majority of their flights, and some airlines have cut jobs in a bid to recuperate costs.
Holidaymakers are advised to get in touch with their travel provider to arrange refunds, change dates or come to an agreement if their trips have been cancelled.
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Airlines have so far not confirmed when they will once more take to the skies – however, when flights do resume, social distancing measures may be implemented.
Chief executive of Heathrow John Holland-Kaye Social has said distancing on planes would reduce capacities by more than 50 percent and mean “prices would shoot up”.
He told PA: “Social distancing does not work in any form of public transport, let alone aviation.
“The constraint is not about how many people you can fit on a plane, it will be how many people you can get through an airport safely.
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“If you’ve ever been on holiday from Gatwick, you cannot imagine going through there and socially distancing in the summer.
“It’s just physically impossible to socially distance with any volume of passengers in an airport.”
EasyJet has suggested it could leave the middle seats on its planes empty when flights resume.
Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary said his airline “can keep people safe” and gave his support to temperature checks.
He told the BBC: “What we will have to do, though, when we do return, will be temperature checks at people entering airport terminals and train stations.
“Anybody with a temperature of over 38 degrees will be refused entry.
“And, on board, we will have face coverings or face masks for passengers, for cabin crew.
“We are disinfecting every aircraft every night. So, yes, I think we can keep people safe.”
In total 99 percent of Ryanair’s fleet has been grounded amid the lockdown, with the remaining flights running on an emergency schedule only for passengers who are returning to the UK.