Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a statement on coronavirus. – FRIDAY 20 March 2020

Good afternoon and thank you for coming again,

Today I am joined by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Jennie Harries deputy chief medical officer.

Yesterday I set out the ambition of this government to turn the tide against coronavirus within 3 months. And I want to repeat that determination today.

We are going to do it with testing. We are going to do it with new medicines, and with new digital technology that will help us to see the disease as it is transmitted, and thereby, by eliminating it, to stamp it out.

And above all, now we are going to defeat this disease with a huge national effort to slow the spread by reducing unnecessary social contact.

And I want to thank everyone for following the guidance we issued on Monday:

to stay at home for 7 days if you think you have the symptoms,

for 14 days if anyone in your household has either of the symptoms – a new continuous cough or a high temperature.

To avoid pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants.

To work from home if at all possible.

Keep washing your hands.

I know it has been tough.

I know it has been inconvenient.

But these actions that we’re all taking together are already helping to take the strain off our NHS.

Bit by bit, day by day, by your actions, your restraint and your sacrifice, we are putting this country in a better and stronger position, where we will be able to save literally thousands of lives, of people of all ages, people who don’t deserve to die now.

People whose lives can, must, and will be saved.

And as we take these actions together and as we make these sacrifices, we can see the impact on the real economy.

Already, fantastic British companies, already under huge strain, big and small.

Workers who are finding that their jobs are under threat or are going, through no fault of their own. And to all of them, we in government say: We will stand by you.

And I say that to companies, remember our joint objective: to beat this virus. And we will do everything in our power to help.

And in just a minute, Rishi is going to explain how we are going to help workers of all kinds to get through this crisis,

Supporting you directly in a way that Government has never been done before, in addition to the package we have already set out for business.

And of course these measures are intended to be temporary and of course I am confident that, in time, the UK economy is going to bounce back.

Of course it is.

But I must be absolutely clear with you: the speed of that eventual recovery depends entirely on our ability, our collective ability, to get on top of the virus now.

And that means we have to take the next steps, on scientific advice and following our plan, we are strengthening the measures announced on Monday which you will remember.

And of course people have already made a huge effort to comply with those measures for avoiding unnecessary social contact.

But we need now to push down further on that curve of transmission between us.

And so following agreement between all the formations of the United Kingdom, all the devolved administrations,

We are collectively telling, telling cafes, pubs, bars, restaurants to close tonight as soon as they reasonably can, and not to open tomorrow.

Though to be clear, they can continue to provide take-out services.

We’re also telling nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres to close on the same timescale.

Now, these are places where people come together, and indeed the whole purpose of these businesses is to bring people together. But the sad things is that today for now, at least physically, we need to keep people apart.

And I want to stress that we will review the situation each month, to see if we can relax any of these measures.

And listening to what I have just said, some people may of course be tempted to go out tonight. But please don’t.

You may think you are invincible, but there is no guarantee you will get mild symptoms, and you can still be a carrier of the disease and pass it on to others

So that’s why, as far as possible, we want you to stay at home, that’s how we can protect our NHS and save lives.

To repeat, I know how difficult this is, how it seems to go against the freedom-loving instincts of the British people. And I also know much, right now, workers and business deserve the financial reassurance we are giving them.

But we will get through this.

We will get through it together, and we will beat this virus.

And to ram that point home: the more effectively we follow the advice that we are given, the faster this country will stage both a medical and an economic recovery in full.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson – previous statement: 18 March 2020

Good afternoon. And thanks for coming or for indeed tuning in to these daily updates. I want to introduce, I’m sure you know Jenny Harries, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, and you know Sir Patrick Vallance, Chief Scientific Advisor.

I want to tell you where we got to in our national fightback against the coronavirus. Today the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies met to discuss the latest evidence on the spread of the virus and the effects of the measures we have already taken to slow its spread. And Patrick is going to update us in a second about that.

I want to repeat that everyone – everyone – must follow the advice to protect themselves and their families, but also – more importantly – to protect the wider public. So stay at home for seven days if you think you have the symptoms. Remember the two key symptoms are high temperature, a continuous new cough.

Whole household to stay at home for 14 days if one member in that household thinks he/she has the symptoms. Avoid all unnecessary gatherings – pubs, clubs, bars, restaurants, theatres and so on and work from home if you can. Wash your hands.

And we have already announced in the last few days we will massively scale up our testing capacity in the weeks ahead so we hit 25,000 tests a day.

A huge public information campaign is being rolled out so people get all the information they need to protect themselves and others.

We are asking retired healthcare professionals to come back and help us cope, help the NHS to cope, with this unprecedented challenge.

And we will continue as we have from the beginning to do the right thing at the right time and to follow the best scientific advice.

And we come today to the key issue of schools where we have been consistently advised that there is an important trade off. And so far the judgment of our advisers has been that closing schools is actually of limited value in slowing the spread of the epidemic.

And that is partly because counterintuitively schools are actually very safe environments. And in this disease and epidemic children and young people are much less vulnerable.

And hitherto the advice has been that we should keep schools open if possible in order to reduce the pressure on the NHS and on all other public services. But I think you’ll agree I have always been very clear that this is a balanced judgment and one that we have kept under constant review.

So looking at the curve of the disease and looking at where we are now – we think now that we must apply downward pressure, further downward pressure on that upward curve by closing the schools.

So I can announce today and Gavin Williamson making statement now in House of Commons that after schools shut their gates from Friday afternoon, they will remain closed for most pupils – for the vast majority of pupils- until further notice. I will explain what I mean by the vast majority of pupils.

The objective is to slow the spread of the virus and we judge it is the right moment to do that.

But of course, as I’ve always said, we also need to keep the NHS going and to treat the number of rising cases. So we need health workers who are also parents to continue to go to work.

And we need other critical workers with children to keep doing their jobs too – from police officers who are keeping us safe to the supermarket delivery drivers, social care workers who look after the elderly and who are so vital. We will be setting out more details shortly about who we mean in these groups.

So we therefore need schools to make provision for the children of these key workers who would otherwise be forced to stay home. And they will also need to look after the most vulnerable children.

This will mean there will of course be are far fewer children in schools and that will help us to slow the spread of the disease. And these measures are crucial to make sure the critical parts of the economy keep functioning and public services keep functioning.

So we are simultaneously asking nurseries and private schools to do the same, and we are providing financial support where it is needed. We are making provisions to supply meals and vouchers for children eligible for free school meals. And where some schools are already doing this, I want to make it clear we will reimburse the cost. And of course this does mean that exams will not take place as planned in May and June. Though we will make sure that pupils get the qualifications they need and deserve for their academic career.

Now I know that these steps will not be easy for parents or teachers. And for many parents, this will be frustrating, and it will make it harder for them to go out to work.

And of course that is one of the reasons we haven’t wanted to go ahead and that’s why we are working now on further measures to ensure that we support not just businesses but also individuals and their families to keep our economy going as Rishi Sunak the Chancellor outlined yesterday.

I also need to remind parents that, as we have already advised, children should not be left with older grandparents, or older relatives, who may be particularly vulnerable or fall into some of the vulnerable groups and I know that will be difficult too. And I want to thank families for their sacrifice at this difficult time. I want to thank whole country for the efforts people are making to comply with these measures.

I particularly want to thank the teachers, head teachers and all the support staff who keep schools going who will make these exceptional arrangements work, for the benefit of us all.

By looking after the children of key workers they will be a critical part of our fightback against Coronavirus. As I have said, we will take the right steps at the right time, guided by the science.

We believe the steps we have already taken, together with those I am announcing today, are already slowing the spread of the disease.

But we will not hesitate to go further, and faster, in the days and weeks ahead.And we will do whatever it takes to so that we beat it together.

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