Tuesday 23 March 2021 9:27 am

Covid-19 restrictions being eased 'once and for all', PM says on anniversary of first lockdown

The Prime Minister said Covid-19 restrictions are being lifted “once and for all”, as he paid tribute to the Britons that have died on the anniversary of the first coronavirus lockdown. 

Johnson offered his “sincere condolences to those who have lost loved ones” and praised the “great spirit” displayed ahead of the nation pausing for a minutes’ silence at midday.

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”.

However he has said coronavirus restrictions are being eased “once and for all” as the UK marked the anniversary of the first national lockdown.

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 30 June.

Ahead of a minute’s silence at midday, 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.

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,” Johnson told broadcasters, stressing the need to swiftly administer vaccines with international cooperation.