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UPDATE 1-UK PM Johnson says optimistic about fully reopening in June

·2 min read

(Recasts with PM)

LONDON, Feb 23 (Reuters) - British Prime Minister BorisJohnson said on Tuesday that he was very optimistic that allCOVID-19 restrictions in England would end on June 21, and addedthat the government would hold a review into the use of vaccinecertificates.

Johnson unveiled a map out of lockdown for England on Mondaythat would keep some businesses shuttered until the summer,saying caution was necessary to ensure there were no reversalson a "one-way road to freedom".

"I'm hopeful, but obviously nothing can be guaranteed ...I'm very optimistic that we'll be able to get there," Johnsontold broadcasters when asked about the June 21 date earmarked toend restrictions.

With almost 130,000 fatalities, Britain has suffered theworld's fifth-highest official death toll from the pandemic andits economy has seen its biggest crash in more than 300 years.

But in two months it has already managed to provide aninitial vaccine dose to more than a quarter of the population,the fastest rollout of any big country, making it a test casefor governments worldwide hoping to return life to normal.

Some in Johnson's Conservative party have questioned whetherthe timetable for re-opening could have been quicker, given thesuccess thus far of Britain's vaccine rollout.

Earlier, health minister Matt Hancock said safety was thepriority.

"We're all absolutely determined to come out of this as fastas safely possible, but no faster," Hancock said on Sky News.

The roadmap suggests that restrictions on nightclubs andlarge events will be the last to be lifted on June 21, thoughthe government has stressed that the reopening will be led bydata, not dates.

Johnson also said senior minister Michael Gove would lead areview to thrash out the "scientific, moral, philosophical,ethical" question of vaccine certificates for those who havereceived a coronavirus shot, which could facilitate there-opening of entertainment and hospitality venues.

"There are deep and complex issues that we need to explore,ethical issues about what the role is for government inmandating all people to have such a thing," he said.

"We can't be discriminatory against people who, for whateverreason, can't have the vaccine. There might be medical reasonswhy people can't have a vaccine ... some people may genuinelyrefuse to have one."(Reporting by Alistair Smout and Michael Holden; Additionalreporting by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Paul Sandle and AlexRichardson)