Johnson unveiled a map out of lockdown for England on Monday (February 22) that would keep some businesses shuttered until the summer, saying caution was necessary to ensure there were no reversals on a "one-way road to freedom."
With almost 130,000 fatalities, Britain has suffered the world's fifth-highest official death toll from the pandemic and its economy has seen its biggest crash in more than 300 years.
But in two months it has already managed to provide an initial vaccine dose to more than a quarter of the population, making it a test case for governments worldwide hoping to return life to normal.
BORIS JOHNSON: I'm hopeful, but obviously nothing can be guaranteed. And it all depends on the way we continue to be prudent and continue to follow the guidance in each stage. And that's why it's so important to proceed in the cautious way that we are. But genuinely, because of the immense possibilities now of the vaccination rollout, because science has given us this way of creating a shield around our population.
We can really look at that June 21 date with some optimism. We haven't had stuff like this before. We've never thought in terms of having something that you have to show to go to a pub or a theater. And it's very deep and complex issues that we need to explore, ethical issues about what the role is for government in mandating or people to have such things, or indeed banning people from doing such a thing.
We can't be discriminatory against people who, for whatever reason, can't have the vaccine. There might be reasons, medical reasons, why people can't have a vaccine or difficulties that some people may genuinely refuse to have one. Now, I think that's a mistake. I think everybody should have a vaccine. But we need to thrash all this out.