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Saturday, March 28, 2020

Live: Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s daily briefing – 22 March


The Prime Minister, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick and the Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries begin their address.

– Boris Johnson says he wants to thank the country for the collective effort, NHS workers, people in social care, and those who work in supermarkets for keeping Britain going.

– Thanks those who did not visit their mothers on Mothering Sunday.

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– Mr Johnson says to businesses: “Thank you for your sacrifice.”

He adds: “The reason we are taking these unprecedented steps… is of course that we have to slow the spread of the disease and save thousands of lives.”

He says that the country has now reached the stage where special steps need to be taken now to protect those especially vulnerable.

– Mr Johnson says that the shielding of around 1.5 million vulnerable people will do more than many other measures to reduce the number of coronavirus cases in the UK.

He says it is crucial that people understand that tomorrow the schools are closed for almost all families.

And he says that, while he wants people to enjoy outdoor spaces, people must follow social distancing advice. ‘Of course we’ll take measures if this advice is ignored.’ – ‘No doubt’ UK will enforce distancing rules if they aren’t followed.

“Don’t think that fresh air in itself provides some sort of immunity from the virus, social distancing must be done in outside spaces too.’

Open Spaces: PM said ‘you must keep 2 metres apart even in parks and green spaces – or we will have to bring forward further measures.’


Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick says the public owes it to the most vulnerable to stay at home and so help the NHS to save lives.

Mr Jenrick says the new shielding measures will involve up to 1.5 million people who are most at risk of being hospitalised by the coronavirus – these groups are advised to stay at home for at least twelve weeks, it includes people with specific cancers, transplants and with other underlying health conditions.

1.5 million will receive letters by Tuesday this week explaining help available – you will be asked to alert authorities if you have no family or support network in place. Food and supplies will be delivered to doorsteps.

He added: “If you are one of these people I want to reassure you… you are not alone.”

The UK military planners will be involved in supporting the ‘shielded people’ – and that everyone will have the opportunity to volunteer in the coming weeks.

“This will be a very worrying time for people with these health conditions.”

“Let’s guarantee that they are never alone.”

Asked by the BBC’s Vicki Young why he is not imposing social distancing measures, Mr Johnson says the government has already taken “draconian” steps such as closing schools and pubs, bars and restaurants.

“It is very important for people’s mental and physical wellbeing that they should be able to get out and exercise,” he says, adding not everyone has a private open space. “That is why parks and open spaces are absolutely crucial.”

He says that – despite this – people must follow social distancing advice otherwise “there is no doubt” that the government will bring forward further measures.

Robert Jenrick says the vulnerable who will be shielded for 12 weeks will get a phone number to call when they need support with food or medicine supplies.

He hopes that food parcels will be arriving towards the end of next week, and will become a “more sophisticated product” over time. Initially ‘fairly generic’ but will adjust for special diets and needs in time.

Mr Johnson is also challenged about a perceived clash of advice on playgrounds, and asked about how practical it is to keep children two metres apart.

In reply, the prime minister says the scientific advice is that the health value of keeping parks open outweighs closing them.

However he repeats his threat that the government will look at “further measures” if people don’t behave “responsibly”.

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