UK’s Johnson says reluctant to use national COVID-19 lockdown again

LONDON: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he will only impose another nationwide COVID-19 lockdown as a last resort, comparing the tool to "a nuclear deterrent" in a Sunday (Jul 19) newspaper interview.

Johnson, who is hoping Britain can return to "normality" by Christmas despite fears of a second wave of cases over winter, insisted the country was getting better at tackling the virus.

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The UK has been among the worst-hit countries in the world by COVID-19, registering the highest death toll in Europe.

Meanwhile, its economy has been battered by a months-long lockdown that has only been gradually eased over recent weeks – and which Johnson is desperate to repair by avoiding another national shutdown.

READ: 70 destinations exempted from UK's COVID-19 quarantine rules

"I can't abandon that tool any more than I would abandon a nuclear deterrent," he told the Daily Telegraph in a wide-ranging interview to mark the end of his first year in Downing Street.

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"But it is like a nuclear deterrent, I certainly don't want to use it. And nor do I think we will be in that position again."

Johnson insisted health authorities were "getting much better at spotting the disease and isolating it locally" while also learning more about who it affects most and how it is spread.

READ: 'Worst-case' UK winter could see 120,000 COVID-19 deaths in second wave

The British premier on Friday sketched out a timetable for easing the remaining lockdown measures in England, including lifting homeworking guidance and reopening sports stadiums and live theatre.

Current government advice is for employees to work from home where they can, but under the new proposals employers will have "more discretion" to urge staff to return.

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