"I can't abandon that tool any more than I would abandon a nuclear deterrent. But it is like a nuclear deterrent, I certainly don't want to use it. And nor do I think we will be in that position again," said Johnson, in reference to a nation-wide lockdown.
The UK prime minister told the newspaper that experts were getting better at spotting the disease, isolating it locally, and identifying which groups it affects and how.
"We're genuinely able now to look at what's happening in much closer to real-time, to isolate outbreaks and to address them on the spot, and to work with local authorities to contain the problem locally and regionally if we have to," he said.
Under the new government guidelines set out by Johnson this week, Britons can use public transport for journeys immediately, and employers will have more discretion to bring staff back to workplaces if it is safe to do so.
"We have a vision for the country under which business of all kinds and all types of activity in this country can eventually get back to as close to normal as possible," said Johnson.
He also admitted that he is "not betting" on a coronavirus
vaccine, pointing out that "we haven't got one for Sars and it has been 18 years. But he notes that scientists "seem perhaps less pessimistic about that than they were."
On a personal note, Johnson said he is feeling better than he did before being struck by Covid-19 because he is "lighter".
"I played tennis last night and I played better than I have for ages," he said.
There have been at least 294,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United Kingdom, according to the British public health authorities. As of Sunday morning, 45,273 people had died.