2021 will be the year Britons can go down the pub “bathed in a rosy glow of nostalgia”, Boris Johnson claimed as he delivered his New Year Message.
The Prime Minister said the coronavirus pandemic meant 2020 was “the year in which the Government was forced to tell people how to live their lives, how long to wash their hands, how many households could meet together, and a year in which we lost too many loved ones before their time”.
He added: “I can imagine that there will be plenty of people who will be only too happy to say goodbye to the grimness of 2020.”
However, the premier also recalled the unity of spirit generated in the first wave of Covid-19 in the spring.
“This was also the year when we rediscovered a spirit of togetherness, of community – 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 – shop workers, transport staff, pharmacists, emergency services, everyone, you name it,” said Mr Johnson.
“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, putting their lives – your lives – on hold, buying precious time for medicine to provide the answers; and it has.”
He looked forward to the mass vaccination programme he hopes will reopen Britain in the coming months, with the Pfizer/BioNTech jab already being pumped into arms and the Oxford/AstraZeneca inoculation dispensed from Monday.
“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,” he said.
However, he admitted: “We are still a way off from that, there are tough weeks and months ahead.
“But 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.”