Boris Johnson

Covid: Boris Johnson ‘optimistic’ about easing lockdown and hints which sectors could reopen first

Video report by ITV Information Political Correspondent Daniel Hewitt


Boris Johnson has admitted he’s “optimistic” about easing England’s lockdown restrictions, and hinted at which sectors could reopen first.

The prime minister will formally unveil his “highway map” for lowering coronavirus restrictions on February 22, with colleges being prioritised as the primary to open on March 8.

He hinted non-essential retail will reopen subsequent, with hospitality to open after that.

Regardless of Mr Johnson’s optimism, scientists are urging his to train warning over the easing of restrictions in a bid to cease instances and hospitalisations hovering.

Mr Johnson, who was on a go to to the North East to see the place the Novavax vaccine is being manufactured, stated: “On February 22 I will be setting out extra of the highway map about the way in which ahead, beginning with colleges, we very a lot hope, on March 8.

“That is acquired to be the precedence. ”

The PM stated that whereas the general variety of instances remained excessive, the an infection price was beginning to fall whereas the rollout of the vaccination programme has made “enormous progress”.

The federal government’s first precedence as restrictions start to ease is returning youngsters to highschool. Credit score: ITV West Nation

On Friday it was revealed that the Covid replica quantity, or R worth – the common variety of folks every coronavirus constructive individual goes on to contaminate – has fallen beneath 1 for the primary time since July.

Newest authorities information places the R at between 0.7 and 0.9 throughout the UK – additional proof that the variety of folks contaminated with Covid-19 is changing into smaller.

He added: “However then working forwards to getting non-essential retail open as nicely.

“After which in the end, as and after we can, prudently and cautiously, after all we need to be opening hospitality as nicely.

“I will be attempting to set out as a lot as I probably can in as a lot element as I can.”



Mr Johnson refused to touch upon newspaper stories revealed on Saturday which steered pubs may reopen in April.

He additionally did decide to offering any dates on which the varied totally different sectors could reopen.

“Give us some extra time to have a look at the information about what is occurring, take a look at the way in which the numbers are coming down, research additionally the efficacy of the vaccines,” he stated.

The prime minister added: “I am optimistic, I will not conceal it from you, however we’ve got to be cautious.”

Scientists are warning that easing restrictions too shortly will trigger Covid instances to spiral. Credit score: PA

Regardless of the prime minister’s positivity, his feedback got here as scientists continued to induce warning over the easing of the present controls.

One scientist advising the federal government stated ministers risked a 3rd wave of the pandemic as huge as the present one in the event that they moved too shortly whereas senior NHS figures stated the well being service remained underneath enormous strain.

Mr Johnson stated the efficacy of the vaccines in serving to to drive down an infection charges could be the important thing to figuring out how shortly they may ease restrictions.

Ministers are assured the vaccination programme is on monitor to satisfy the goal of getting a proposal of a jab to everybody within the high 4 precedence teams – together with the over-70s – by the deadline of Monday.

It’s hoped that restrictions may be eased as extra individuals are vaccinated towards Covid. Credit score: PA

The PM stated that scientists will likely be learning the “efficacy of the vaccines – are they working in the way in which that we hope that they’re – and ensuring they’re actually serving to, together with the lockdown, to drive down the incidence. That’s the key factor.”

Mr Johnson additionally echoed Well being Secretary Matt Hancock who steered a mixture of vaccines and therapeutics may make Covid-19 a “manageable illness” like seasonal flu.

“A brand new illness like this may take time for humanity to adapt to however we’re,” he stated.

“I do suppose that in due time it can grow to be one thing that we merely reside with. Some folks will likely be extra susceptible than others – that’s inevitable.”



Earlier, Professor Steven Riley, a member of the Spi-M modelling group, warned that whereas the rollout of the vaccination programme had been “extremely profitable” it didn’t imply controls may merely be dropped.

“No vaccine is ideal. I believe scientists are genuinely frightened.

“We don’t need to present that it is a superb however not excellent vaccine by having one other massive wave within the UK,” he advised BBC Radio 4’s At this time programme.

“If for some cause we had been to decide on to only fake it (coronavirus) wasn’t right here any extra, then there may be the potential to return to a wave that may be a related measurement to the one which we’re in now.”

Well being Secretary Matt Hancock stated he hoped Covid remedies and vaccines will enable the UK to reside with Covid ‘like flu’. Credit score: PA

In the meantime, NHS Confederation chair Lord Adebowale expressed concern that March 8 was nonetheless too quickly for colleges to return.

He stated the NHS workforce was “on its knees” and “can’t afford one other peak.”

“I perceive the strain to open colleges. We want to take action very safely. I believe mid or late March is after we ought to be reassessing,” he advised the At this time programme.

Nevertheless, Mr Johnson stays underneath strain from some Tory MPs to get on with lifting the restrictions and reopening the financial system as shortly as potential.

Former cupboard minister David Davis stated: “There’ll come some extent the place there will likely be a loss of life price from Covid however it’s at a standard degree after which we’ve got to deal with that. Clearly we nonetheless attempt to stop it however we settle for it.”


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