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PM: Things will be very different by spring – but easing lockdown will be gradual

Boris Johnson has again insisted that things would look “very different by the spring”, though he warned that this “doesn’t mean we are not going to be living with the consequences of the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic for a while to come”.

But he added that there will be no “open sesame” relaxation of lockdown. And the gradual easing depends on the successful rollout of the vaccine and there being no new concerning coronavirus variants.

“I understand completely that people want to get back to normal as fast as we possibly can,” the Prime Minister told reporters this afternoon. “It does depend on things going well.

“It depends on the vaccination programme going well, it depends on there being no new variants that throw our plans out and we have to mitigate against, and it depends on everybody, all of us, remembering that we’re not out of the woods yet.”

Asked if he is concerned of a postcode lottery in the rollout, Mr Johnson said: “I think actually the whole of the UK is going very well. And, overall, the pace of the rollout is very encouraging.

“We’re going as fast as we can but I stress we can do everything we can to open up but when we come to February 15, and the moment when we have to take stock of what we’ve achieved, that’s the time to look at where the virus is, the extent of the infection and the success that we’ve had.

“It’s only really then that we can talk about the way ahead and what steps we can take to relax.

“I’m afraid I’ve got to warn people it will be gradual, you can’t just open up in a great open sesame, in a great bang, because I’m afraid the situation is still pretty precarious.”