The Prime Minister earlier this week said he was expecting the effects of the rise in new coronavirus cases in the EU to have an impact in the UK. He said the country should be “under no illusions that previous experience has taught us that when a wave hits our friends, it washes up on our shores as well”.
Mr Johnson and Downing Street officials have said there are currently no plans to slow the ending of lockdown restrictions in England due to the success of the vaccine rollout.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said yesterday while no action was currently needed, the Government would not be slow to take action should a new surge hit.
“I would point to the five-week gap between each step so we can look at the previous easement and what impact they’ve had in terms of the transmission rate of the virus,” he said yesterday afternoon.
However, former No10 pollster James Johnson has warned Brits are already suffering from lockdown fatigue and would be unlikely to back any new proposals.
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He told Express.co.uk: “If we have to go into another lockdown at some other point, I think it is going to be harder to get public permission for this.
“I’ve always sort of thought – half based on evidence – the British public has three lockdowns in them.
“I think once you get past that point it is going to be difficult to sell it.”
The opinion researcher, who co-founded the research firm JL Partners when he left No10 in summer 2019, said the evidence of public response to the November lockdown was a sign of how people would respond to any “lockdown four”.
He said: “Particularly in the November lockdown, pre-vaccine, the division between the polls and focus groups was really stark.
“There was a real sense of lockdown fatigue coming in and a sense of ‘well, what are we doing this for?’
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“Actually, normal voters in these focus groups starting to say ‘we need to look again at how we do this’.
“The key thing is, the vaccine changed everything and the lockdown since January, in the context of the vaccine, people have scrubbed those November views from their heads.
“They’re still fatigued and frustrated and worried about mental health but they’re in the ‘one last heave’ mindset now, they think ‘we’ve got this vaccine’.”
England has spent 195 out of the last 365 days in full lockdown – 53 percent of the year.
However, the pollster said a slowdown in the easing of restrictions could still be backed by the public if required.
He said: “If there were a genuine surge, I think people would be understanding of that, I think that would still fit into the ‘one last heave thinking’.
“But if we see that happening and the numbers aren’t there to match it or it’s a jump from 6,000 cases to 8,000 cases for example, that public permission is going to be hard to find.”
Step one of the roadmap out of lockdown gets underway next Monday when groups of six are allowed to meet up outdoors, including in private gardens.