PM 'very optimistic' about full reopening in June but 'no guarantees'

Boris Johnson speech

Boris Johnson speech

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set out his roadmap to lifting lockdown restrictions in England.

With one of the strictest lockdowns and one of the world's fastest vaccine rollouts, the country may be seen as a test case for governments hoping to reopen economies and return life to some kind of normalcy.

But genuinely, because of the enormous possibilities now of the vaccination rollout, because science has given us this way of creating a whole shield around our population, we can really look at that June 21 date with some optimism.

"I think that's how I would put it. There may well be a role of certification but we just need to get it right". Outdoor cinemas, theatres and cinemas can reopen, while indoor hospitality and entertainment venues (like cinemas and soft play centres) will reopen, albeit still being subject to the "rule of six".

From June 21, all remaining businesses, such as nightclubs, will resume operations and rules on social contact will be scrapped.

Facing criticism from some Tory MPs over the pace of change, Mr Johnson said he was "hopeful" that all legal controls can be removed on the final date earmarked in his four-step plan.

There are complex issues we need to work out.

"Some people will say we are going too fast, some people will say we're going too slow".

"And that is why it is so crucial that this roadmap is cautious but also irreversible".

June 21 bank holiday
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Mr Johnson, when setting out the roadmap in a Downing Street press conference, suggested vaccine certificates - also known as vaccine passports - could facilitate the reopening of some aspects of society, such as the hospitality industry.

Michael Gove has been tasked with leading a review into the possible use of vaccine passports as part of the road map for releasing England's coronavirus lockdown.

Scientists from the University of Edinburgh, the University of Strathclyde and Public health Scotland examined data from people who had received the first dose of the either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine.

He argued "we can't be discriminatory against people" who cannot have a jab for medical reasons, while acknowledging some may also "generally refuse to have one", albeit on mistaken grounds.

"The fervent libertarians will reject but other people will think there's a case for it".

In the first step of England's road map, all pupils are expected to return to class from March 8, with wider use of face masks and testing in secondaries.

He insisted schools are safe and the return of students is "massively important for the country".

The PM said that's a "sensible approach, a prudent approach".

Along similar lines, a woman wrote: "So if the road map goes to plan why don't we forever more make 21st June a bank holiday - to reflect each year on the dark days we all went through, to remember the ones who died of this frightful virus and to embrace our friends and family again".

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