Johnson: Emergence from lockdown will be gradual unwrapping of restrictions
Boris Johnson warned it would take time to ease lockdown restrictions in England which could be in place until the end of March.
The Prime Minister said there was “no choice” but to issue the stay-at-home order and close schools given the spread of coronavirus, particularly the more infectious new variant.
Addressing MPs after the recall of the Commons from its Christmas break, Mr Johnson said there was now a race between the spread of the virus and the delivery of vaccines to the most vulnerable.
England’s lockdown has already come into force and MPs will vote later to retrospectively approve it.
Mr Johnson said: “Our emergence from the lockdown cocoon will not be a big bang but a gradual unwrapping.
“That is why the legislation this House will vote on later today runs until March 31 – not because we expect the full national lockdown to continue until then but to allow a steady, controlled and evidence-led move down through the tiers on a regional basis.”
The Prime Minister told MPs there would be “continuous review” of the measures with a statutory requirement to look at them every fortnight and a legal obligation to remove them if they are no longer necessary.
“We are in a tough final stretch, made only tougher by the new variant,” Mr Johnson said.
“After the marathon of last year we are indeed now in a sprint, a race to vaccinate the vulnerable faster than the virus can reach them.
“Every needle in every arm makes a difference.”
Despite calls from Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle to stay away from the Chamber and participate remotely, the Conservative benches were well attended.