‘Near normality’ should return to the UK by July, Boris Johnson has reportedly told MPs.
Mr Johnson was speaking on a video call to colleagues, reports The Sun.
One MP who was on the call said: “Boris told us he is determined that the country should be as close to normality again before the end of July.
“But he was clear that it all depends on the country meeting the conditions that have been set for tackling the virus.
“Most importantly that means bringing down the infection rate – and that can only be achieved if we continue to obey the rules on social distancing to help stop it spreading.'”
Mr Johnson has called for more patience from the nation as it plots a course back to normality, saying he is backing the British public’s fortitude and common sense to help the country recover.
Writing the Mail on Sunday, Mr Johnson acknowledged frustrations over Government plans for emerging from the coronavirus lockdown.
But he said three of the Government’s ‘five tests’ had been met.
He wrote: “I made clear from the outset that we can only make changes to the lockdown when it is safe to do so, guided by science. We set five tests, of which three have been met and progress is being made on the remaining two.”
The tests include getting the R value below one and reducing hospital admissions, intensive care admissions and the number of deaths.
Restrictions in England have been eased – and the Government message softened from “stay at home” to “stay alert” – but Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have not followed suit.
With debate over reopening of schools and return to work raging, an Opinium survey released this weekend has shown public dissatisfaction with the Government’s response to Covid-19 has overtaken approval for the first time.
Mr Johnson said he could “understand people will feel frustrated with some of the new rules” but urged Britons to remain patient so that the country “does not risk reversing the gains we have so far won in the fight against the virus”.
“We are trying to do something that has never had to be done before – moving the country out of a full lockdown, in a way which is safe and does not risk sacrificing all of your hard work,” he wrote.
“I recognise what we are now asking is more complex than simply staying at home, but this is a complex problem and we need to trust in the good sense of the British people.
“If we all stick at it, then we’ll be able, gradually, to get rid of the complexities and the restrictions… but we must move slowly, and at the right time.”
Only 39% of Britons approve of the Government’s response – down from 48% a week ago – according to an Opinium survey of 2,005 adults on Wednesday and Thursday.
Those saying they disapproved rose from 36% to 42%.
Adam Drummond, the head of political polling at Opinium, said it was the first time disapproval of the Government’s handling of the crisis was higher than approval.
Writing for The Mail, Mr Johnson said: “If 2020 has taught us anything, it is truly that the worst of times bring out the best in humanity.”