U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce plans to lift national pandemic restrictions on socializing, shopping and traveling to work, including where possible target dates for when the curbs will be eased.
“What we want to see is progress that is cautious and irreversible,” Johnson said in a pooled interview with broadcasters Monday. The premier will detail his “road map” for ending lockdown in a statement on Feb. 22.
Johnson said his priority remained to reopen schools from March 8, but no decision has yet been taken on whether all age groups will return to classrooms at the same time.
Six weeks into a third national lockdown, Johnson’s government is drawing up options for how to relax rules that are compounding the damage to an economy which suffered its worst slump in more than 300 years last year.
Members of Johnson’s Conservative Party are pushing him to reopen the hospitality sector by early April, now that the government has provided vaccines to the most vulnerable 15 million people and carers in the country.
The prime minister said he had to be cautious and warned he would push back dates for reopening sectors of the economy if the infection rate does not come down quickly enough, and then stay low. Infection rates are still “very high,” he said. “We’ve got to keep looking at the data.