The government cannot guarantee that the current coronavirus lockdown in England will be the last, a minister has told Sky News.
James Cleverly said it was impossible to give people “100% certainty” because “viruses don’t work like that”.
“We do want it to be the last lockdown, that’s what we’re working towards,” the Foreign Office minister said.
Mr Cleverly said COVID-19 restrictions and the UK’s continuing vaccine rollout were having an impact.
But he said “no one can predict with complete certainty” what the virus will do and how it will evolve.
“We are taking the right action, we are doing the right things and we very much hope that this will be the last lockdown,” Mr Cleverly continued.
“We can’t give complete 100% certainty because viruses don’t work like that.”
And on the prospect of Britons being able to travel overseas for holidays this summer, he said: “At this stage we are not able to say what the situation will be for holidays this summer.”
The minister’s comments on lockdown echo those of Boris Johnson, who told a Downing Street news conference on Monday that he hopes the current shutdown will be the last but admitted he cannot offer “an absolute cast iron guarantee”.
The prime minister will set out his roadmap for easing coronavirus restrictions on Monday.
Speaking earlier this week, Mr Johnson said his plan will be based “firmly on a cautious and prudent approach” that ensures the unlocking will be “irreversible”.
“We want to be going one way from now on,” the PM added.
Pupils could start returning to the classroom from 8 March, while Mr Johnson said his plan could include the earliest possible dates for reopening different sectors of the economy.
However, he stressed these could be pushed back if the situation with the virus changes.