A mass testing drive could determine which regions have more Covid-19 cases and therefore need stricter restrictions, the Daily Telegraph reported. The news outlet added that home testing kits, known as lateral flow tests, could also be key to having everyone in one area tested within a week.
Those who test positive for the virus despite showing no symptoms would be instructed to self-isolate in order to break the chain of transmission.
One senior Government source told the Telegraph that testing efforts were currently only focused on key workers.
However, they admitted the Government did not rule out a mass testing drive at a later point in time.
The insider said: “We are currently concentrating testing around critical workers and we are some way off looking at whether restrictions can be lifted.
“But when decisions are made about lifting restrictions we will look again at whether there would be a further role for mass testing on a wider scale.”
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab suggested lockdown restrictions could start being relaxed moderately in March.
Mr Raab noted it would be a slow tier process, rather than a sudden change in Government guidance.
He said by the “early spring, hopefully March” some of the strict measures would be loosened “gradually” so everything could “get back to normal”.
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He told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “What we want to do is get out of these national lockdowns as soon as possible, the roadmap is that by early spring, hopefully by March, we’ll be in a position to make those decisions.”
“I think it’s right to say we won’t do it all in one big bang; as we phase out of the national lockdown, I think we’ll end up phasing through the tiered approach.
“We want to make sure that we can do it in a safe way but again, we’ve got to, at this point in time, really focus on protecting the NHS and rolling out the vaccine.
“If we do those two things, we get into a much better place by early spring.”
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Also on Sunday, Mr Raab spoke on BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, explaining “we can start to think about the phased transition out of the national lockdown” if Government goals are met by early spring.
“When we get to early Spring if we’ve succeeded, we can start to think about the phased transition out of the national lockdown,” he said.
“It won’t be a big bang, it’ll possibly be back through the Tiers system.”
NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens echoed similar remarks, suggesting the easing of restrictions could take place over Spring and Summer.