Express & Star comment: Caution is the watch word

Boris Johnson has described it as a road map.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson elbow bumps Ismail Patel after getting his jab
Prime Minister Boris Johnson elbow bumps Ismail Patel after getting his jab

But there is still the potential for many wrong turnings as the nation plots a course to the better times, the more "normal" times, after the terrible experience of the last 11 months... and counting.

Although the situation has generally improved, objectively it is still dire in terms of the number of deaths and infections. The improvement has been a relative one – things are still by no means good, but they are not as bad as they were a few weeks ago.

Nevertheless, every day of advance, of hundreds of thousands of new vaccinations, brings the lifting of the lockdown closer. The sacrifices are working and now the time when we start to reap the rewards is approaching.

The government has stressed that it is looking to the data to inform its decisions, rather than picking dates out of the air for lifting restrictions. After over-optimism and precipitate action in the past – something that became apparent largely in hindsight – caution is now the watchword.

So it's going to be a gradual process. Schools are a priority for reopening as Britain's children have been damaged and disadvantaged enough by something which statistically poses them little health risk.

All those closed shops and business enterprises need to get going again. The nation's economic engine cannot be running at idle for ever. The country needs to generate wealth and support livelihoods.

They are all difficult judgments, but the really tough ones are in those spheres where social non-distancing is what the activities are basically all about, such as going to the pub, to watch a football match, joining friends for a meal at a restaurant, and so on.

And as this is a global pandemic a reopening of international travel, and of course a resumption of holidays abroad, is not something Britain can achieve alone, as it will also depend on how things are going in destination countries. Put another way, we are all in it together.

So Boris' road map outlines a path on a hard and difficult road. But the fact that he is looking at it shows that after a tough and deadly Covid winter, we now at least have the promise of a Covid spring.

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