LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled a map out of lockdown for England on Monday that would keep some businesses shuttered until the summer, saying caution was necessary to ensure there were no reversals on a “one-way road to freedom”.
After imposing one of the strictest lockdowns in the western world last month to counter a highly contagious variant of the coronavirus, Johnson said Britain was now in a position to enjoy the fruits of one of the world’s fastest vaccine programmes.
Starting in two weeks with the reopening of schools, the phased plan will go through four stages, with at least five weeks in between each stage. The final step, when most restrictions will be lifted, will not start until June 21 at the earliest.
Johnson has come under pressure, including from many in his Conservative Party, to allow more freedom to millions stuck at home and offer hope to firms forced to close.
Under his plan schools will reopen on March 8, freeing parents who have had to juggle work and home schooling.
However, easing of social mixing bans will initially be limited and the government will ask people to work from home when possible for some weeks until it has completed a review into social distancing at some point before the summer.