© REUTERS/Hannah Mckay
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday conceded there is "no credible route" for Britain or the world to become completely free of Covid-19, as he announced a plan to gradually lift restrictions across England.

Noting that there will be more cases, hospitalizations, and deaths whenever the UK decides to lift its lockdown - whether that's immediately or in nine months - Johnson told Parliament there is "no credible route to a zero-Covid Britain or, indeed, a zero-Covid world."

"We cannot persist indefinitely with restrictions that debilitate our economy, our physical and mental well-being, and the life chances of our children."

Laying out his plans for the gradual lifting of restrictions, Johnson said it is "crucial that this roadmap should be cautious but also irreversible," claiming that England is "setting out on what I hope and believe is a one-way road to freedom, and this journey is made possible by the pace of the vaccination."

Johnson's plan involves schools reopening on March 8, with people in England initially being allowed to meet a single person outside, and one regular visitor for care-home residents, a restriction to be relaxed to up to six people or two households meeting outdoors from March 29.

The slow back-to-normal roadmap, which could stretch further, depending on the coronavirus data, is supposed to continue with stage two starting April 12 and stage three around May 17. Non-essential establishments will potentially be able to reopen in April, and May will see larger outdoor - and some indoor - gatherings, with pub-going and sporting events allowed. The final stage, starting June 21, will supposedly see many restrictions lifted or eased, and nightclubs would also be allowed reopen.

Nearly 18 million people in the UK have received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and over 600,000 have received their second dose, with the inoculation tally steadily increasing each day. Meanwhile, the number of people testing positive for the virus is said to be steadily decreasing.