Boris Wants ‘This Lockdown to Be the Last’, But Wouldn’t Rule out a Fourth

Pedestrians walk past graffiti reading "Lockdown 3: The Nightmare after Christmas" painted on a boarded up restaurant passes a Government Covid-19 information poster near a road in Manchester, northern England, on February 15, 2021. - Britain intends to seek a "cautious but irreversible" ending of strict coronavirus restrictions, Prime Minister …
OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that he wants “this lockdown to be the last”, but would not rule out a fourth.

The prime minister said that he would present a “roadmap” out of lockdown next week, which should outline “the route to normality” — “even though some things are very uncertain”.

“We want this lockdown to be the last. And we want progress to be cautious but also irreversible,” Mr Johnson told a Downing Street press conference on Monday evening, according to the i newspaper.

However, the prime minister refused to give a “cast-iron guarantee” that this lockdown, England’s third, which was put in place on January 4th, would be the last.

Prime Minister Johnson said: “No, I can’t give that guarantee, of course not, because we’re battling with nature, with a disease that is capable of mutating and changing.

“I’m increasingly optimistic about the sheer extent of the possibilities that are opening up with vaccinations. I’ll be setting out as much of a timetable as we can give on the 22nd.

“And I’m very hopeful that we’ll be able to go ahead and open things up.”

“But I don’t want people to think I’m not optimistic. I think there’s been a big change and the big change is that science is now unquestioningly in the ascendancy over the disease,” he, however, added.

This week, Professor Stephen Reicher of the government advisory body the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (SPI-B) advised the Johnson administration against giving the public dates of when they can begin to have their freedoms back because when the government fails to deliver by those deadlines, it leaves people feeling “hopeless and helpless”.

So far, some 90 per cent of over-70s have been offered the first shot of a coronavirus vaccine, with the UK having two varieties available: the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Oxford-AstraZeneca.

The UK has been far advanced in its vaccination programme, generally, when compared to the European Union. At one point last week, the UK had given the first dose to more people than the whole EU-27 combined.

However, scientists are pressuring Johnson into a “cautious” release of lockdown measures.

Imperial College’s Professor Azra Ghani has claimed that her modelling predicts a wave of deaths in Summer 2021 if lockdown is relaxed in July, and that measures should remain in place until at least September when most adults will have been vaccinated.

“My advice would be to be cautious… to open up slowly, because in the long term this will be the better way out of the pandemic,” Professor Ghani told ITV News.

The epidemiologist continued: “The problem is that it is highly transmissible. We now have these new variants in place that we know are even more transmissible than previously, and not everybody will be vaccinated for various reasons.

“Some people can’t take the vaccine. Others will choose not to. So that can lead to subsequent epidemics if we just relaxed everything straight away.”

This week, the 63-strong group of lockdown sceptic Conservative MPs the Covid Recovery Group (CRG) called on the government to begin outlining an exit strategy that would lead to all restrictions being lifted by the end of April, when the most vulnerable groups will have been vaccinated and protected.

Senior minister Dominic Raab rejected what he termed the “arbitrary” date, resulting in CRG Chairman Mark Harper responding: “They’re not random, arbitrary timetables.”

“It’s linked very much to the rollout of the vaccine. Once you have vaccinated the top nine groups who represent 99 per cent of the people who have sadly died from Covid and about 80 per cent of those who are seriously ill, I don’t think there is a justification for these draconian restrictions,” Mr Harper added.

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