Speaking at a Downing Street press conference this afternoon (Monday 12 July), the Prime Minister said it was “absolutely vital we proceed with caution".
He said there was “no easy answer and no obvious date” for easing pandemic restrictions in England.
The Prime Minister’s words come after health secretary Sajid Javid confirmed to MPs the country would move to step four of the Government’s roadmap next Monday (19 July).
This will see the removal of restrictions such as the rule of six, social distancing requirements and mandated table service.
Nightclubs will be able to reopen for the first time since they were forced to close in March 2020.
The country has met the four tests - based on the success of the vaccine rollout, the effectiveness of vaccines in reducing hospitalisations and deaths, infection rates' pressure on the NHS and variants of the virus - needed to ease restrictions.
Means of entry
Johnson warned the country that the pandemic was not over and said individuals would still be expected to wear a face covering when in enclosed and crowded spaces.
He encouraged nightclubs and other businesses to make use of the NHS app and ask punters for proof of vaccination status or a recent negative test result as a “means of entry.”
"As a matter of social responsibility, we're encouraging nightclubs and other businesses with large crowds to make use of the NHS Covid Pass which shows proof of vaccination, a recent negative test or natural immunity as a means of entry," he said.
The Prime Minister said that society could not “revert instantly” to life as it was before the pandemic and urged people to get jabbed.
England's chief medical officer Chris Whitty warned of an “exit wave” as restrictions were eased while Johnson highlighted the country is currently recording more than 30,000 new Covid infections per day.
It was inevitable infection rates would increase with restrictions easing, according to Johnson, who said rates were currently in the “middle range” of what scientists had predicted when the unlocking roadmap was first published in February.
Two thirds of adults will have received two doses of a vaccine while every adult will have been offered a first dose by Monday 19 July, the PM added.
Johnson said a reopening of society in September when the weather gets colder would see the virus benefit from a “greater natural advantage” and be risky as schools would be back.
“Now is the right moment to precede,” he added and said the summer holidays would act as a “natural firebreak”.
There have been reports that the Government is looking at bringing in a vaccine passport scheme in the autumn months when infections are expected to increase and the NHS to face pressure.
Updated guidance on the Government website also now states: "If sufficient measures are not taken to limit infection, the Government will consider mandating certification in certain venues at a later date."
The British Beer & Pub Association said any proposals under consideration had not been communicated to them despite asking the Government to engage with them on the issue of vaccine passports.
The trade body said there would be significant push back against requiring Covid passports to enter pubs but hoped the successful vaccine rollout would avoid the need for the measure being introduced.