Boris Johnson addressed the nation on Tuesday night, one year on from when the UK first entered lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Prime Minister was joined by England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty and Government Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.

The Downing Street press conference followed a day of remembrance when the UK marked one year of lockdown.

MPs and peers in both Houses of Parliament and ministers in the devolved nations marked the anniversary at midday, while NHS and social care workers also joined the pause for reflection.

The Queen reflected on the “grief and loss felt by so many” as she paid tribute to the service of health and care workers in a message to St Bartholomew’s Hospital, where the Duke of Edinburgh had heart surgery.

Here are the key moments.


Boris Johnson marked a year of sacrifice in the UK when he paid tribute to the heroes of the pandemic.

He said that “at the right moment” a permanent memorial to those who died from coronavirus will be built and the “whole period” will be commemorated.

The Prime Minister told the Downing Street press conference: “At the right moment, we will come together as a country to build a fitting and a permanent memorial to the loved ones we’ve lost and to commemorate this whole period.

“For month after month, our collective fight against coronavirus was like fighting in the dark against a callous and invisible enemy until science helped us to turn the lights on and gain the upper hand.”

How he plans to “reclaim our freedom”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the nation is “step by step, jab by jab” on the path to “reclaiming our freedoms”.

He told the Downing Street press conference: “It’s thanks to all of you therefore that we can continue on our road map to freedom.

“We will meet our targets, offering a first dose to everyone over 50 by the middle of next month, as well as those under 50 who are clinically vulnerable, and offering a first dose of a vaccine to every adult by the end of July.

“And cautiously but irreversibly, step by step, jab by jab, this country is on the path to reclaiming our freedoms.”

Booster vaccine jabs may be needed

Tim from Northampton asked how long vaccine antibodies last and asked whether the most vulnerable will need booster jabs before young people receive their first.

The question was offered to Sir Patrick Vallance who said: "We don't know exactly how long because obviously people haven't been vaccinated for a very long period. So you may see some slight decline. But on the whole, antibody levels are holding up."

However he did point out that booster jabs will need to be considered in the autumn.


The Prime Minister was asked if he would have done anything differently by Laura Kuenssberg of the BBC.

Boris Johnson said the “biggest false assumption” during the pandemic was over asymptomatic transmission and said that no “previous government” had envisioned such a novel disease.

He told the Downing Street press conference: “In retrospect there are probably many things that we wish that we’d known and many things that we wish we’d done differently at the time, in retrospect, because we were fighting a novel disease under very different circumstances than any previous government had imagined.

“The single biggest false assumption that we made was about the potential for asymptomatic transmission and that did govern a lot of policy in the early days, or that misunderstanding about the reality of asymptomatic transmission certainly led to real problems that we then had to work very, very hard to make up ground.”

New wave concerns

Boris Johnson warned we must be “very wary” of the potential for a third wave, when asked by a member of the public how the Government is planning to stop the spread from Europe into the UK.

He told the Downing Street briefing: “On the European continent we are seeing distinct signs of a third wave and they’re taking steps to abate that, to deal with that.

“And we in the UK have very tough measures at our borders already.”

He added: “As for your point about lorry drivers (being tested) and hotel quarantine for absolutely everybody, we keep – I want to be clear with the public – we keep all these measures under review. In so far as it’s necessary to take extra measures to protect this country against new variants, variants of concern, of course we’re going to do that.”

Some good news

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said the number of Covid-19 deaths is falling more rapidly than the decline in new cases of the virus.

Speaking at the Downing Street press briefing, he said: “As you can see, rates of numbers of people testing positive for Covid in the UK is continuing to fall, but this is flattening off to some extent over the last week.

“And this is expected at this point of the curve in terms of it’s going down but more slowly, and we have always expected some upward pressure as people went back to school and some unlocking happened.”

He said the number of people in hospital “has come right down, and is continuing to fall rapidly” due to a combination of lockdown and vaccine rollout.

On the number of deaths, he said: “These are falling and falling quite rapidly and you can see they’re falling much more rapidly than the rate of decline of number of cases.”

Should we have locked down sooner?

Dan Hewitt from ITV asked the PM if he wished he had locked down the country sooner.

Mr Johnson said: "First of all, on your question about the timing of the decisions that we took, these are very, very hard decisions. 

"And there are no good outcomes either way, as I think all our viewers understand, all these consequences are very, very tough for people. And all I can say is we took all the decisions with the interests of the British people."

“We will be dealing with this as long as I live”

Beth Rigby on Sky News asked about the main challenges faced as the country recovers from the pandemic.

She asked about the "scar COVID will leave on the economy, public health and all our children".

Boris Johnson admitted we will be dealing with the pandemic “for as long as he lives”.

He said: "This is something we will remember and be dealing with in different ways for as long as I live.

"It's been an extraordinary moment in our history, a deeply difficult and distressing period.

"But the extent to which it affects us will depend on the fortifications we build against it," he says.

He said that the biggest damage will be "the loss of learning for so many children and young people".

"That's what we've got to focus on in society," he says.

"I think there's a chance to learn from the pandemic, discovering how you can teach through Zoom and teach better through technology and maximising our use of tutoring as well."

Lessons to be learnt

Boris Johnson said lessons will be learned for future pandemics, as he was asked whether the Government should have imposed lockdown sooner.

Speaking at the Downing Street press briefing, he said: “These are very hard decisions and there are no good outcomes either way.

“All these consequences are very tough for people and all I can say is we took all the decisions with the interest of the British people foremost in our hearts and in an effort to protect the public and prevent death and suffering.

“Though doubtless there will be a moment to properly review, to learn lessons for future pandemics of a kind which I’m sure there will be.”


Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he hopes to be able to detail more on foreign travel by April 5.

He said: “A lot of people do want to know about what’s going to happen on the holiday front and I know there’s a great deal of curiosity and interest.

“All I can say is it’s just too early to say and my advice is to everybody to wait for the global travel task force to report.

“We’ve heard already that there are other European countries where the disease is now rising so things certainly look difficult for the time being but we will be able to say more we hope in a few days’ time, I certainly hope to say more by April 5.”