UK lockdown roadmap: Boris Johnson hails ‘one way road to freedom’ & vows ‘we will not go back’ to lockdown

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BORIS Johnson tonight vowed the UK was on a “one way road to freedom” and said his roadmap would make sure the nation WON’T go back into lockdown.

The PM revealed his “cautious” plan for releasing all restrictions by June, as he vowed the vaccine rollout would create a “shield” around the entire population.

Read our UK lockdown live blog for the latest news and updates on Boris’ roadmap…

Boris told the nation he didn’t want to go back into lockdown and we were now on the road to freedom
The PM tonight ahead of his press conference

At a press conference tonight he insisted the country was on a one-way track – and he hoped Britain wouldn’t go back into lockdown again.

He said spring and summer would be “seasons of hope” and life would be better for everyone in the weeks and months to come.

Boris vowed: “There is light ahead, leading us to a spring and the summer, which I think will be seasons of hope, looking and feeling incomparably better for us all and from which we will not go back.”

He said he “very much hopes” that his plan today is “a roadmap that takes us to the end, of a one-way journey”.

“The intention is that it should be irreversible.

“We don’t want to go back into another lockdown. We want to deliver as much security and certainty as we can to the public, business and to everybody.”

The PM insisted that after months of on-off lockdowns, the nation must get closer to normal once again, saying: “We must accept that we cannot persist indefinitely with restrictions that have separated families and loved ones for too long, threatened the livelihoods of millions, and kept pupils out of school.”

The PM told MPs earlier that his “cautious but irreversible” plan today to get the country back to normal after the “extraordinary” success of Britain’s speedy vaccine rollout.

It comes as the UK today recorded its lowest increase of Covid fatalities in ten weeks – 178 – with just 10,000 infections.

He hopes to get Britain booming and back to near normal by June, and give every adult a vaccine by the end of July.

But his own roadmap admitted that it would cause thousands more deaths as the country opens up once again.

And Chris Whitty said this evening that Britain would not “get rid” of Covid and it would cause problems for “at least the next few winters”.

He warned: “This is not the end.”

Everyone must stick to the rules as they are relaxed or cases will spike again, he begged.

Chris Whitty said the UK should see Covid as something which cannot completely be eliminated

All restrictions will be lifted at the same time across England – with no more tiers in sight – but each step will be assessed against four tests first.

He told MPs today: “Today the end really is in sight. A wretched year will soon give way to spring and summer that will be very different to today.”

And as long as the data allows and there are no more new variants which could wreck the plans, the PM aims to review and relax more rules every five weeks giving a week’s notice of the update.

It comes as Public Health England findings showed that one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine reduces hospitalisations and deaths by at least 75 per cent – which will help him lift measures.

And he hinted that furlough would be extended further, saying that he would do whatever it takes to continue to provide support for people throughout the pandemic and “the rug will not be pulled out”.

But the PM also said there could be “no credible world to a zero Covid Britain” and insisted there would still be some form of the virus existing for months to come.

The lockdown roadmap includes:

  • Schools to return from March 8 for all pupils, and two people from different households can meet outside
  • But kids will have to wear masks in classrooms at first
  • From March 29 the rule of six returns outdoors and outdoor sport will resume with golf and tennis courts back open
  • April 12 will see shops reopen for customers again, with hairdressers and barbers back – along with nail salons
  • Brits will be able to go on a staycation with their family as the stay local rules will be lifted from the end of April
  • From May, pubs and restaurants will be allowed to have indoor service again – with the rule of six or two households in place
  • Gyms will then be allowed to reopen and other indoor activities like cinemas and bingo halls
  • From May two households will finally be able to mix indoors – and stay overnight
  • After June it’s hoped that all other restrictions on where people can go are hoped to be lifted
  • Nightclubs and theatres can finally reopen – likely with rapid testing schemes

MPs will get a vote on the new rules – before March 29 – where grumpy MPs are likely to urge him to go even further.

The PM had faced pressure to act even faster from his backbenchers, who want all rules to be ditched by the end of April, but he’s said it won’t be safe to do so.

The plan will come as part of three stages – which can’t be pulled forward. Those are the dates which will be the earliest ones possible.

If one date is dragged back, they will all be dragged back.

Shielding Brits have been told to stay home as much as they can until the end of March.

VACCINE PASSPORTS

The news also came as Boris announced a review into vaccine passports – and whether “covid status certifications” will be able to help Britain out of lockdown.

The u-turn comes after ministers spending months denying they will be used here in the UK, and will only be signed off by GPs so that people can go abroad.

According to Boris’ plan, Brits have been warned to continue socially distance – as they have done for months in an attempt to stop the spread of Covid.

However, with the successful rollout of the Covid vaccination, the Government has said the public will be able to make informed personal decisions.

HOPE FOR HUGS

In the roadmap, Brits are told: “It will remain important for people to
consider the risks for themselves, taking into account whether they and those they meet have been vaccinated or are at greater risk.”

The roadmap released today states: “The Government will continually review the evidence of vaccine efficacy, including its impact on transmission.

“As soon as possible, and no later than Step 3, the Government will update its advice on social distancing between friends and family, including hugging.

Hugs are still off the cards for a while yet

“Until then, people should continue to keep their distance from anyone not in their household or support bubble, and keep up habits such as regular hand washing and letting in fresh air.”

Ministers will also conduct a review into social distancing, leaving the door open to masks and the one metre plus rule staying in place for months to come.

There’s currently no date when those rules may end – but today’s roadmap makes clear they will be in place until at least June.

Working from home should also continue for months to come.

And ministers will also pilot events with no social distancing too.

CURFEW DITCHED

Boris Johnson also confirmed new rules for pubs, with the 10pm curfew ditched when they reopen.

People won’t need to buy a meal in order to have a pint.

But they will be restricted to table service for the forseeable future.

TESTING TIMES

More testing will allow the nation to get back to normal too, he said.

Nightclubs and other venues like sports may use mass testing to start bigger events up again.

A review will look at how best to get back to normal as soon as they can.

LOCAL LOCKDOWNS

The PM said local lockdowns may be needed in future to control any new variants.

Postcode testing is currently in place in a dozen areas across the country where new types of the virus have been found.

HOLIDAY HELL

Brits won’t find out until April 12 if they’ll be going on holiday abroad this summer.

The Prime Minister announced today that the government would not make any decision until April – and that trips abroad will definitely be no earlier than May 17.

For those looking to holiday in England, self-catered holidays will restart from April 12 which includes caravans and holiday lets, as long as it is with your own household only.

Hotels and mixed-group holidays will be able to resume from May 17, but only for two households, or more than two households with the rule of six.

From June 21, three households will be able to go away together even if it is more than the rule of six – as they hope to lift all the rules by then.