Local lockdowns could return in England, even as restrictions are eased.

Boris Johnson cautioned that the spread of mutated coronavirus strains could temporarily plunge specific areas back under harsh rules, even as his ‘road map’ sees a gradual relaxation of the restrictions.

The Prime Minister told the Commons this afternoon: ‘We must remain alert to the constant mutations of the virus.

‘Next month we will publish an updated plan fro responding to local outbreaks with a range of measures to address variants of concern, including surge PCR testing and enhanced contact tracing.

‘We can’t, I’m afraid, rule out reimposing restrictions at local or regional level if evidence suggests they are necessary to contain or suppress a new variant which escapes the vaccines.’

It comes as the PM outlined his plan to get the country out of lockdown, with June 21 earmarked as the earliest possible date to remove all social restrictions.

In recent weeks, surge testing has been rolled out in various areas to combat particular variants of the virus.

Last year many parts of the country were hit by local lockdowns as case rates grew in particular areas.

Places like Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester and others were hit by harsh rules for significant periods, in an effort to combat the spread of the virus there.

The tier system then meant that certain areas enjoyed a relative lack of restrictions while others were under the equivalent of a national lockdown.

Some experts fear that a new strain of Covid-19 could emerge which is resistant to vaccines and therefore push the country back to square one.

To combat that, the hope is that early detection, tracing and isolating of new strains will stop them before they become widespread.

There are particular fears about the South African variant, which vaccines are thought to be less effective against.

But it is far less widespread than the Kent variant, which – though more contagious than the original strain – is thought to be beaten by the vaccines.

There has also been criticism of the Government for its border policies, which – unlike places like New Zealand – only sees arrivals from some countries forced to quarantine.

Some experts say we do not know where a potentially vaccine-resistant strain could come from and therefore blanket border restrictions are necessary.

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Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown


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Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown

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Harrison Jones

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