Boris Johnson: 'Nothing conclusive to say UK must deviate from roadmap out of lockdown'

18 May 2021, 12:49 | Updated: 18 May 2021, 14:26

'Nothing conclusive to say UK must deviate from roadmap out of lockdown', PM says
'Nothing conclusive to say UK must deviate from roadmap out of lockdown', PM says. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Boris Johnson has said he does not "see anything conclusive at the moment to say that we need to deviate from the roadmap" out of lockdown "but we've got to be cautious".

The prime minister said "we are keeping everything under very close observation" following the emergence of the Indian coronavirus variant of concern.

Speaking at a vaccination centre in London, the Prime Minister said: "We are looking at the epidemiology the whole time as it comes in and, at the moment, partly because we have built up such a wall of defences with the vaccination programme, I don't see anything conclusive at the moment to say that we need to deviate from the road map.

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"But we've got to be cautious and we are keeping everything under very close observation.

"We'll know a lot more in a few days' time."

Mr Johnson also said India was placed on the red list of travel restrictions before the coronavirus variant first identified in the country was of concern.

He added: "If you look at what happened with the variant we are talking about, the so-called Indian variant, the B1617.2, India was put on the red list before this was even a variant under investigation, let alone a variant of concern.

"So we took prompt action and we will continue to take very, very draconian action in respect of all variants coming from wherever around the world."

The possible return of local lockdowns would be fiercely resisted in the North West of England, where restrictions were in place for much of 2020.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said: "Last year, tiers did not work - they did not stop the spread of the virus.

"It would be hard for me to put out a message of caution in Greater Manchester when nationally the messaging is very different, that the road map is proceeding.

"We struggled with that mixed messaging all of last year.

"Government should listen to its own MPs, to what I am saying, and allow the vaccination programme to proceed much more quickly in Bolton, Blackburn and other places that have the spread of this variant.

"That is the solution, and it is right in front of us."

Downing Street has said that the need for local lockdowns in England has not been ruled out as the Government continues to monitor the spread of the disease.

"We are doing everything possible to ensure that we can proceed with the road map and that includes taking step four with June 21 being the earliest date for that," the Prime Minister's official spokesman said.

"But whilst we are getting this data it is too early to speculate on what future measures we may or may not need to take.

"We are not ruling out those sort of measures at this stage whilst we are still looking at the data coming in."