A LOOK back at the Prime Minister’s utterances over the past year.
Yes, Christmas this year will be very different, but we must be realistic. We are sacrificing our chance to see loved ones so we have a better chance of protecting their lives, so we can see them at future Christmases.
As sure as night follows day, we will beat back this virus. We will defeat it.
We have to face the fact we’ve got two big things happening at once in our fight against Covid – one is working for us, and one working against us.
On the plus side we have valid vaccines; on the downside, there is a new strain of the virus which is spreading much faster and surging across the country.
So at this critical moment with the prospect of freedom within reach, we’ve got to redouble our efforts to contain the virus. We have to think very hard about schools, because today of course it remains the case that keeping children in education is a national priority.
Yes, let’s be clear this is a national challenge on a scale like nothing we have seen before and it will require an unprecedented national effort.
The army is working hand in glove with the NHS and using battle preparation techniques to help us keep up the pace.
We are in a race against time.
I know everyone yearns to know how much longer we must endure these restrictions, with all their consequences for jobs, livelihoods and most tragically of all, the life chances of our children.
We will not persist for a day longer than is necessary. Together we can defeat this most wretched disease, and reclaim our lives once and for all.
Tonight let’s clap together for Captain Tom at 6pm, and let’s clap for the spirit of optimism that he stood for, because if we protect our NHS and save lives, then in the words of Captain Tom – tomorrow will be a good day.
He knew instinctively which organisation he wanted to thank and support. And he was right.
Although the vaccination programme is going well, we still don’t have enough data about the exact effectiveness of the vaccines in reducing the spread of infection. We have some interesting straws in the wind, we have grounds for confidence, but we have to keep our foot to the floor.
With every day that goes by this programme of vaccination is creating a shield around the entire population which means that we are now travelling on a one-way road to freedom.
We can begin safely to restart our lives and do it with confidence, but I want to be frank about exactly what that means and the trade-offs involved.
Exactly a year ago it seemed incredible that in the 21st Century [lockdown] was the only way to fight a new respiratory disease, but we did it together to save lives.
For the entire British people it has been an epic of endurance and privation, and at the right moment, we will come together as a country to build a fitting and a permanent memorial to the loved ones we have lost.
For month after month our collective fight against coronavirus was like fighting in the dark against a callous and invisible enemy, until science helped us to turn the lights on and to gain the upper hand, and when people come to describe this epidemic to future generations, we’ll tell the story of the heroes of the NHS and social care, armed service personnel, the police and so many others.
I want to congratulate the members of Ilkeston cycling club in Derbyshire, and the swimmers who broached the chilly waters of the Hillingdon Lido at the crack of dawn.
But that wave is still rising across the Channel.
So what we need to do is continue flat out to build our defences against that wave when it comes, so that I will be able to play tennis for instance.
I will be going to the pub and cautiously but irreversibly raising a pint of beer to my lips, but we can’t be complacent. We still don’t know how strong the vaccine shield will be.
We don’t yet know the full extent of the protection that we are building up – the exact strength of our defences – and so we must learn to live with this disease, as we live with other diseases.
Today I want to announce what we hope will be a further line of medical defence: a new Antivirals Task Force to search for the most promising new medicines with the aim of making them safely and rapidly available as early as the Autumn.
If you test positive, there might be a tablet you could take at home to stop the virus in its tracks and significantly reduce the chance of infection turning into more severe disease.
Or if you’re living with someone who has tested positive, there might be a pill you could take for a few days to stop you getting the disease yourself; then we can keep each other safe and see through our roadmap to reclaim our lives in full.
We must move away from living our lives by government rules, and as we learn to live with this virus we need to make our own decisions about how best to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
I want to trust people to be responsible and to do the right thing.
But now it is more vital than ever that people play their part in stopping the spread, by getting tested twice a week, getting a jab if eligible, observing social distancing from those they do not know, and self-isolating if positive.
That’s the way to live with this virus, while protecting our NHS and restoring our freedoms.
We must be honest with ourselves that if we can’t reopen our society in the next few weeks – when we will be helped by the arrival of summer and by the school holidays – then we must ask ourselves when will we be able to return to normal?
And so we must change the basic tools that we have used to control human behaviour, reinforce our vaccine wall, move away from legal restrictions, and allow people to make their own informed decisions about how to manage the virus.
Like millions of people across this country I woke up this morning sad. I cannot say this powerfully or emphatically enough: this pandemic is not over. We cannot simply revert instantly from Monday 19th July to life as it was before Covid.
So we’ll keep our tough border policy, we’ll keep the test, trace and isolate system in place, we expect that people wear a face covering, and as a matter of social responsibility we’ll urge nightclubs and other venues with large crowds to make use of the NHS Covid Pass as a means of entry.
Remind everybody that some of life’s most important pleasures and opportunities are likely to be increasingly dependent on vaccination, and we reserve the right to mandate certification at any point, but stress – we want people to be able to take back their freedoms.
The British people will never be cowed by terrorism, but I want to update them on these storm clouds that are gathering over the continent, that show us once again that if we want to control the epidemic here in the UK, and if we want to avoid new restrictions on our daily lives, we must all get vaccinated.
Received news of another new variant – the so-called Omicron Variant – and it does appear that Omicron spreads very rapidly, with 2 cases so far identified here in the UK, and can be spread between people who are double vaccinated.
We need to take targeted and proportionate measures now as a precaution while we find out more.
Earlier today we added four more countries to the red list, but we now need to go further and implement a proportionate testing regime for arrivals from across the whole world.
We will require all contacts of those who test positive with a suspected case of Omicron to self-isolate for ten days, regardless of vaccination status.
We will also go further by tightening up the rules on face coverings in shops, schools, and on public transport.
The measures that we are taking are temporary and precautionary, and we will review them in three weeks.
Back to last year: ‘We are still in the tunnel of this pandemic, the light however is not merely visible: thanks to an extraordinary feat of British engineering if you like, the tunnel has been shortened, and we are moving faster through it, and that gives me great confidence about the future.
So for now let’s double our efforts, let’s follow the rules, protect our NHS and together make 2021 the year we leave this tunnel behind us.’ – Boris Johnson, December 30, 2020.
Just one last heave, anyone?