Boris Johnson has warned there will be “disastrous consequences” for the NHS without the introduction of new layered coronavirus restrictions when the national lockdown ends next week.
The prime minister, facing a confrontation with his own MPs over the tough measures, urged the nation to “work together” on tiering, testing and vaccines.
Writing in The Mail on Sunday, he stressed that it was too early to ease restrictions, but said he believed Easter would be a “real opportunity to get back to something like normal life.”
Mr. Johnson said, “We can’t screw it up now. We can’t just throw it all away – not when freedom is in sight. We’ve worked too hard, lost too much, sacrificed too much, just to see our efforts burned in another volcanic eruption of the virus …
“We’re almost out of captivity in no time. In front of us are the sun-drenched high meadows. But if we try to jump the fence now, we’ll just wrap ourselves in the last barbed wire, with disastrous consequences for the NHS.
So let’s get the job done right. Let’s work together, and with tiering, testing and vaccines, let’s make 2021 the year we kick out Covid, take back control of our lives and reclaim all the things we love. “
The prime minister likened the development of effective vaccines to the “morale-boosting bugle-explosive excitement of Wellington’s Prussian allies who came through the woods on the afternoon of Waterloo.”
And he said, “If and when we can start delivering those shots into the national arm – starting with the most vulnerable – we’ll know we’ve won.”
His comments came as he tried to stave off a rebellion by offering Parliament another chance to vote on the restrictions early next year, saying the legislation will have a “February 3 sunset”.
He also said that in the first review of the measures on Dec. 16, he would move areas to a lower level where there is “robust evidence” that the coronavirus is constantly deteriorating.
Johnson wrote to Tory MPs on Saturday night ahead of a crunch vote in the House of Commons about the restrictions on Tuesday, when dozens of them could revolt.
They are angry that so much of the country will be severely restricted when the national lockdown ends.
Mr Johnson said the government will review local area levels every fortnight and will submit regulations to parliament after the fourth review on Jan. 27, which will determine whether the tier system will remain in effect until the end of March.
He also said the first such review, on Dec. 16, would consider the views of local health directors, with a final decision on whether areas should change levels, made in a cabinet committee. The changes will take effect on December 19.
In another olive branch for MPs, the prime minister pledged to publish more data and outline what conditions need to change in order for an area to go down one level, as well as an analysis of the health, economic and social impacts of the measures being taken. taken to suppress the coronavirus. .
Only the Isle of Wight, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are in the lightest Tier 1 controls, while large areas of the Midlands, North East and North West are in the most restrictive Tier 3.
In total, 99% of England will enter levels 2 or 3, with strict restrictions on bars and restaurants and a ban on indoor mixing for households when the four-week national lockdown is lifted on Wednesday.
Several senior Tories have voiced opposition to the measures, including the 1922 committee chair Sir Graham Brady, who said he wanted people to be ‘treated like adults’ and rely on their own health decisions.