Boris Johnson promises Covid freedom as ‘the sun rises on 2021’ – but warns of ‘hard struggle’ first


BORIS Johnson tonight promised freedom from Covid in 2021 – but warned there would be a “hard struggle” to get there.

The PM vowed that “as the sun rises on 2021” tomorrow morning the “beacon of hope” of the new Oxford vaccine would carry the nation through.

Boris speaking to the nation ahead of the New Year
Revellers in Finland get ready to celebrate 2021

Speaking just hours before New Year – and Brexit – the PM’s sombre but touching message to the nation looked back on a difficult year tackling the pandemic.

He promised that this would be the year Britain would finally be able to chuck away masks, bin social distancing and hug loved ones again – as soon as the vaccine was rolled out.

The PM told an anxious nation with three quarters now in Tier 4: “I believe 2021 is above all, the year when we will eventually do those everyday things that now seem lost in the past.

“Bathed in a rosy glow of nostalgia, going to the pub, concerts, theatres, restaurants, or simply holding hands with our loved ones in the normal way.”

Though Britain is “still a way off” with some “tough weeks and months ahead”, we could now see a clear way through to the end.

We are still a way off from that, and there are tough weeks and months ahead, he warned.

But he added: “We can see that illuminated sign that marks the end of the journey, and even more important, we can see with growing clarity how we are going to get there.

“And that is what gives me such confidence about 2021.”

He stressed that Brexit would deliver an “amazing moment for our country”, giving us new-found freedoms to step out onto the world stage, too.

He vowed: “We have our freedom in our hands and it is up to us to make the most of it.

“2021 is the year we can do it.”

Police officers stand guard as people gather to celebrate the arrival of the new year in Wuhan, China

Meanwhile, Soho in London was deserted tonight

New Zealanders were able to attend New Year concerts

Admitting that most people would “be only too happy to say goodbye to the grimness of 2020”, he went on to remind the nation “that this was also the year when we rediscovered a spirit of togetherness, of community.”

The PM said: “It was a year in which we banged saucepans to celebrate the courage and self-sacrifice of our NHS staff and care home workers…

“A year in which working people pulled the stops out to keep the country moving in the biggest crisis we have faced for generations – shopworkers, transport staff, pharmacists, emergency services, everyone, you name it.

“We saw a renewed spirit of volunteering, as people delivered food to the elderly and vulnerable.

“And time after time as it became necessary to fight new waves of the virus, we saw people unite in their determination, our determination, to protect the NHS and to save lives.”

Earlier today police told people not to hold parties and gather with others – and they would be on hand to fine people up to £10,000.

Everyone across the country has been ordered to act as if they have coronavirus and to stay within their own households this New Year.

Fireworks displays including London’s annual celebrations, have been cancelled.

Pubs and restaurants are shut across the nation as 20million people went into Tier 4 this morning – the only ones still open are on the Isles of Scilly.

The annual fireworks display in London won't take place tonight

The annual fireworks display in London won’t take place tonight

In Tier 3 people can meet with up to six others outdoors, and Tier 4 residents can meet one other person – but ministers are urging people not to do so tonight.

Cops have warned the public they will be fining people breaking the rules by meeting up with others – starting with £100 and rising to £10,000 for people having parties.

And they will be focusing their patrols in London on areas with the highest rates of Covid infections too, they said.

HOAR revealed today how a string of illegal New Year’s Eve raves are being secretly planned across Tier 4 London.

Thousands of people are expected to attend the events which could send Covid spreading even faster through the capital. 

Organisers are not being deterred by the prospect of £10,000 fines and are planning events similar to those in the summer when a string of illegal raves sent the r-rate soaring.

It comes after illegal raves and warehouse parties were blamed on driving a surge in coronavirus – leading to further lockdown misery.

Three quarters of England is now in tier four, with some 44 million people under the toughest restrictions and household mixing banned.

Illegal New Year's Eve raves are being planned across Lonndon

Illegal New Year’s Eve raves are being planned across London