Leo Varadkar launches bitter attack on UK’s covid plan – ‘Concerns us in this country!’

Boris Johnson's reopening plans are 'staggering' says host

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The Tanaiste (deputy leader) criticised Mr Johnson’s ambitious bid to get society in England back to normal by scrapping social distancing rules, reopening night clubs and making face masks optional. Mr Johnson has argued now is the time to roll back the measures – not at the height of the flu season in winter – but Ireland’s deputy is unconvinced.

He said the plan is simply “too risky” at this stage in the pandemic, amid warnings the UK’s daily number of infections could skyrocket to 50,000.

Mr Varadkar said: “The prospect of packed theatres in the West End and nightclubs in Manchester being packed to the rafters is one that would concern us in this country quite frankly.

“If things go wrong in England, it will have a spillover effect in Ireland and on our other neighbours.”

And Ireland’s transport minister Eamon Ryan insisted the Republic would not be following in England’s path when it comes to the reopening of the economy.

He said: “We’re going to get everyone vaccinated, back dining, able to socialise – it will just take a bit of time.

“It’s not going to be a huge change, it’s going to be step by step.”

On Monday, Mr Johnson’s announcement about the lifting of curbs on “Freedom Day” was widely welcomed.

After pushing back the date by four weeks in June, he said he would go full steam ahead with his plan to open up England on July 19.

Mass events are set to take place in England for the first time since March 2020.

There will be no caps on attendance and guests will not be required to follow social distancing rules.

Some travel restrictions are also set to be eased as the British tourist season gets into full-swing with the school summer holidays this month.

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According to reports, fully vaccinated travellers arriving from countries on Britain’s “amber list” are set to avoid quarantine from as early as July 19.

Ministers will gather this week to approve a policy that will allow people to travel from amber destinations without having to isolate for up to 10 days, according to The Times.

At present, travellers arriving from a country on the amber list, which includes top tourist destinations Spain, France, the United States and Italy, are required to quarantine on arrival.

The Sun said Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, would unveil the rule change on Thursday.

The government did not immediately comment on the reported plans today.

After over 15 months of travel restrictions, airlines and the travel industry want Britain to relax strict rules which have kept its finances in the doldrums.

Seeking to convince the government that scrapping quarantine for vaccinated travellers is logistically possible, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Heathrow Airport are set this week to start checking the vaccine status of passengers arriving on flights into Britain.

The three firms issued a joint statement today, saying: “The trial aims to reassure government that airlines and airports can check vaccine status upstream and away from the border, ensuring no further pressure in UK immigration halls.”

Passengers will use airline apps to verify their vaccine status.

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