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Boris said today the nation would have to get used to rolling vaccinations
England is on a "one way road to freedom", Boris Johnson has said as he revealed his four-step route out of lockdown, which could see all aspects of society reopened by June 21.

The prime minister, laying out his roadmap out of lockdown, said he hopes to fully reopen the country and remove all limits on social contact within months, so long as the battle against coronavirus continues to go to plan.

Comment: None of the governments predictions have reflected reality so the chances that it 'will go to plan' now are low, and thus the likelihood the restrictions will remain is high.

He told a Downing Street press conference that the rollout of Covid-19 vaccinations had "shifted the odds in our favour", allowing for a gradual reopening of society.

Comment: "May the odds be ever in your favour"... It's probably not Bojo's intention to sound like a dystopian movie.

Nightclubs could be permitted to reopen on June 21 under Mr Johnson's plan, having been shut since the first lockdown in March 2020. Outdoor hospitality including pubs could reopen as early as April 12, with indoor hospitality opening no earlier than May 17.

The stay at home order will be lifted on March 29.

Self-contained holidays within the UK could be permitted as early as April 12, as well as indoor leisure facilities such as gyms, plus hairdressers and non-essential retail.

Mr Johnson suggested the reopening of some aspects of society, such as ticketed events, could be facilitated by certificates which show someone has been vaccinated - also known as vaccine passports.

There "may well be a role of vaccine certification", he said, but there are "some ethical issues, issues about discrimination, to what extent can government compel such use of certification".

Comment: Indeed there are ethical issues to contend with, but it sounds like that's not going to stop the government trying.

There will be no return to a regional system of tiered restrictions, the PM announced, with all of England moving away from lockdown at the same pace.

Comment: Or being pushed back into lockdown 'at the same pace'.

The four-step plan would mean a "wretched year" can "give way to a spring and a summer that will be very different and incomparably better".

"The end really is in sight," he added, as he looked ahead to the first lifting of restrictions; the reopening of schools on March 8.

While the reopening of schools is almost guaranteed to go ahead, with the risk of coronavirus to children "vanishingly small", the PM warned that the rest of his plan is subject to delay.

Comment: They admit this and yet children and young people have still been forced to suffer nearly a year of restrictions that, by all measures, has significantly traumatized many.

Ministers will check if England can pass four "tests" before allowing restrictions to lift.

Consideration will be given to the success of the vaccine rollout, the effectiveness of vaccines, the impact of infection rates on hospital pressures, and whether emergence of new variants increases risk.

Comment: Considering the governments behaviour over the last year, this is insidiously vague,

There will be five weeks between each restriction being lifted, with four weeks set aside to assess new data, and one week notice given to industries to prepare for a reopening.

Comment: These measures seem pretty arbitrary.

Mr Johnson warned the Covid-19 threat "remains substantial", but said he was able to plan for a lifting of restrictions due to the "extraordinary success" of the vaccine rollout.

Comment: Countries that have had low vaccine uptake are seeing the same results as the UK.

However, even with every adult set to have been offered a jab by July, Mr Johnson said: "No vaccine can ever be 100 per cent effective, nor will everyone take them up."

He added: "We cannot escape the fact that lifting lockdown will result in more cases, more hospitalisations and sadly more deaths.

Comment: Indeed, because it's likely that the lockdowns only made the situation worse by making people more unhealthy and preventing herd immunity:

"This would happen whenever lockdown is lifted, whether now or in six or nine months, because there will always be some vulnerable people who are not protected by the vaccine.

"There is therefore no credible route to a Zero Covid Britain or indeed a Zero Covid World."

Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty echoed the PM, saying the virus is "likely to be a problem, in particular, in the winter for the next few winters".

He added: "I'm afraid, for the foreseeable future, coronavirus is going to be added to that list of things that those who are vulnerable - even despite vaccination - can be at risk of."

Comment: So the lockdowns were all for nothing?

But, the PM said, restrictions cannot be in place forever and each step out of lockdown will be "irreversible".

"We are setting out on what I hope and believe is a one way road to freedom," Mr Johnson told MPs.

He was unable to guarantee, however, that there will not be a return to restrictions.

"We can't, I'm afraid, rule out re-imposing restrictions at local or regional level if evidence suggests they are necessary to contain or suppress a new variant which escapes the vaccines."

Comment: That's IF they're even lifted. Lest we forget the promises to 'save Christmas' were broken.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the Prime Minister should listen to his scientific advisers and not Tory lockdown-sceptics when deciding on the next steps.

"If he does not, we will waste all the sacrifices of the last 12 months," he warned.

The changes apply for England only, though leaders of devolved administrations have been in contact to coordinate a lifting of restrictions.

The government said MPs will be asked to vote on the new plan before Easter recess, but a defeat for the PM is highly unlikely due to his huge Commons majority.

To see the details for the 'roadmap out of lockdown' click here.