Johnson 'Cautiously Optimistic' COVID-19 Indian Variant Will Not Delay Lockdown Easing

LONDON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 13th May, 2021) UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday that he is "cautiously optimistic" that the fast spreading of the Indian coronavirus variant will not delay the government's roadmap out of the COVID-19 lockdown in England.

"I think we have to wait a little bit longer to see how the data is looking but I am cautiously optimistic about that and provided this Indian variant doesn't take off in the way some people fear, I think certainly things could get back much, much closer to normality," Johnson told broadcasters during a visit to a Primary school in County Durham, northeast England.

Step three of the government's roadmap out of lockdown is expected to come into effect on May 17, when bars and restaurants would be allowed to serve clients indoors, cinemas and theaters would reopen and up to six people from different households could meet indoors. The fourth and last step is planned for June 21, when all limits on social distancing would be lifted.

Asked about the possibility of the end of lockdown being delayed after Public Health England warned that the so-called Indian variant is spreading three time faster than other imported strains, the prime minister admitted that he is "anxious about it," but stressed that there is nothing at the moment that dissuades him from going ahead with the roadmap.

"At the moment, I can see nothing that dissuades me from thinking we will be able to go ahead on Monday and indeed on June 21, everywhere," he said.

Johnson, who has repeatedly said that each step out of the lockdown is guided by data, warned, however, that he would not hesitate to take some measures locally if scientists advised him to do so.