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Editor's Viewpoint

Boris' plan must be carefully looked at

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Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson

PA

Boris Johnson

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has come up with some hare brained ideas for Northern Ireland - connecting the province to the rest of the UK with a bridge over the Irish Sea or tunnels, Boris burrows, under the waves. They have attracted more derision than appreciation.

But his four step road map for ending lockdown is a proposal which deserves the closest examination by the Northern Ireland Executive over the coming months. Effectively the Prime Minister, by his plans for England, also has done the heavy lifting for politicians in this part of the UK.

With the Executive not due to carry out another review of its own lockdown until March 18 - and keen to do nothing dramatic apart from a phased return to the classrooms before the Easter holidays - politicians and scientists will be able to guage if the Prime Minister's timetable is working and tailor the local response accordingly.

The surge in hospital admissions and deaths post the easing of restrictions at Christmas was a chastening lesson for all concerned and slow and easy are now the buzz words for any changes in the coming months.

Of course the politicians will come under pressure to give predictive dates for a staged return to normality, not least from businesses, but the mantra of following the data not the dates must continue to influence decisions.

The Prime Minister has tempered his path to recovery by outlining the four conditions which have to be met to keep changes on track. They include the vaccination programme continuing to go to plan. That has been one of the great successes of the government's response to date with large numbers of people receiving their first dose of vaccine which scientists say has now been proven to have spectacularly positive results in preventing those injected being hospitalised or dying.

Any risk of a fresh surge in hospital admissions or new variants of the virus producing fresh threats would also throw the timetable off course.

The Prime Minister's June 21 prediction as the date when normality could return to life both individual and societal would require the best case scenario to continue but it is a beacon of hope.

Northern Ireland's politicians must also be pragmatic. Easing restrictions should only be considered if the evidence from England and local data stands up and the Executive should not be afraid of pausing on the road to recovery if the science demands it. That way we could finally bring the virus under control.

Belfast Telegraph


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