Boris Johnson Lays Groundwork for Next Lockdown Before Britain Even Escapes the Last One

A man wearing a protective face mask passes a billboard showing Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Manchester, north-west England on November 6, 2020, as the second lockdown comes into force in England. - A united effort to tackle spiking coronavirus infection rates has been called for as 56 million …
OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has suggested that the UK may have to reimpose lockdown restrictions during the winter months, despite previously promising that the end of lockdowns will be “irreversible”.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to a laboratory in Hertfordshire on the day that was initially slated as “freedom day” before being delayed to July 19th, Mr Johnson refused to rule out reinstating lockdowns during the winter.

“You can never exclude that there will be some new disease, some new horror that we simply haven’t budgeted for or accounted for,” the PM said per Sky News.

“But looking at where we are, at the efficacy of the vaccines against all variants that we can currently see, I think it’s looking good for 19 July to be that terminus point,” Johnson added.

Mr Johnson said that the UK is on track for a “rough winter for all sorts of reasons,” explaining: “Obviously there are big pressures on the NHS, which is all the more reason to reduce the number of COVID cases now, give the NHS the breathing space it needs to get on with dealing with all those other pressures.

“We’re certainly going to be putting in the investment to make sure that they can.”

Should the Prime Minister reimpose lockdown restrictions in the winter, it would be a direct breach of his promise of a “cautious, but irreversible, roadmap to freedom”.

The comments follow weeks of pressure on the government from its own scientific advisors to ease lockdown rules as slowly as possible, if at all. Speaking yesterday, government scientist Dr Susan Hopkins said she foresaw an extra lockdown for this coming winter.

The Prime Minister also revealed that the government is considering lifting quarantine restrictions for British travellers who have had two doses of a coronavirus vaccine. However, he said that it is unlikely for travel to return to any sort of normality in the near future.

“I want to stress that this is going to be – whatever happens – a difficult year for travel,” he said, adding: “There will be hassle, there will be delays, I am afraid, because the priority has got to be to keep the country safe and stop the virus coming back in.”

Starting in earnest in May, members of the scientific establishment began to warn of a third wave of the Chinese virus as a result of the so-called Indian variant of the disease.

Last week, disgraced Professor Neil Fergusson  — who infamously broke his own lockdown restrictions to visit his married lover, despite his own doomsday predictions of hundreds of thousands of UK coronavirus deaths — warned that if lockdown restrictions are eased, then Britain could see as many as 1,200 deaths per day this summer.

The UK has not seen such high death figures since the previous peak in January, indeed, the daily death rate has hovered around the low single digits over the past month, with just six deaths recorded in the whole of the country on Sunday.

The country has also had one of the most successful vaccination drives in the world, yet, unlike countries with much lower vaccination rates, such as France and Germany, the government has insisted on keeping lockdown restrictions in place, possibly squandering the economic advantage of the vaccine drive.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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