British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called for more patience from the nation as it plots a course back to normality, saying he is backing the British public’s fortitude and common sense to help the country recover.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Mr Johnson acknowledged frustrations over UK Government plans for emerging from the coronavirus lockdown.

Restrictions in England have been eased – and the British Government message softened from “stay at home” to “stay alert” – but Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have not followed suit.

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With debate over the reopening of schools and a return to work raging, an Opinium survey released this weekend has shown public dissatisfaction with the UK Government’s response to Covid-19 has overtaken approval for the first time.

Mr Johnson said he can “understand people will feel frustrated with some of the new rules”, but he urged Britons to remain patient so the country “does not risk reversing the gains we have so far won in the fight against the virus”.

He wrote: “We are trying to do something that has never had to be done before – moving the country out of a full lockdown, in a way which is safe and does not risk sacrificing all of your hard work.

“I recognise what we are now asking is more complex than simply staying at home, but this is a complex problem and we need to trust in the good sense of the British people.

“If we all stick at it, then we’ll be able, gradually, to get rid of the complexities and the restrictions… but we must move slowly, and at the right time.”

Only 39% of Britons approve of the Government’s response – down from 48% a week ago – according to an Opinium survey of 2,005 adults on Wednesday and Thursday.

Those saying they disapprove rose from 36% to 42%.

Adam Drummond, head of political polling at Opinium, said it was the first time disapproval of the Government’s handling of the crisis has been higher than approval.

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