B

oris Johnson has said coronavirus restrictions are being eased “once and for all” as the UK marks the anniversary of the first national lockdown.

The Prime Minister offered his “sincere condolences to those who have lost loved ones” and praised the “great spirit” displayed ahead of the nation pausing in remembrance on Tuesday.

With the official death toll passing 126,172 deaths, Mr Johnson warned a third wave of Covid-19 cases being seen in France and Italy could “wash up on our shores as well”.

He will face lockdown-sceptics on the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs in an attempt to quell unease over his plan to ease restrictions ahead of a Commons vote later this week.

But they are likely to be further angered by proposals to legally require care home workers to be vaccinated, and for foreign holidays to continue being outlawed until at least June 30.

Ahead of a minute’s silence at midday, Mr Johnson praised those who developed and rolled out vaccines, parents who homeschooled their children and the public who endured social distancing.

“It’s because of every person in this country that lives have been saved, our NHS was protected, and we have started on our cautious road to easing restrictions once and for all,” he said in a statement.

HEALTH Coronavirus / PA Graphics

But on Monday, he highlighted the precariousness of the situation, warning of a fresh wave of infections in Europe, adding “experience has taught us that when a wave hits our friends, it washes up on our shores as well”.

“I expect that we will feel those effects in due course,” Mr Johnson told broadcasters, stressing the need to swiftly administer vaccines with international cooperation.

Diplomatic efforts continued in a bid to ward off a possible ban on vaccine exports from the European Union amid a row over supplies.



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