Boris Johnson – 2020 Statement on the Coronavirus 22/03/2020

Below is the text of the statement made by Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, on 22 March 2020.

Good afternoon everyone

Thank you for coming, and thank you to Robert Jenrick, the Communities Secretary, and Dr Jenny Harries, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer.

I want again to thank everyone in the country today for the huge effort that we are collectively making.

I want to thank the amazing workers in the NHS, everybody working in social care, in every sector, in food distribution, transport, you name it – absolutely everyone who is keeping this country going today.

And I want to thank everyone who is being forced to do something differently today.

Everyone who didn’t visit their mum for Mother’s Day but Facetimed them, Skyped them, rang them instead.

Thank you for your restraint and for what you did.

Everyone who was forced to close a pub or a restaurant or a gym or any other business that could have done fantastic businesses on a great day like this.

Thank you for your sacrifice, I know how tough it must be.

And I can tell you again that this government will be standing behind you – behind British business, behind British workers, employees, self-employed – throughout this crisis.

And the reason we are taking these unprecedented steps to prop up businesses, support businesses and support our economy and these preventative measures is because we have to slow the spread of the disease and to save thousands of lives.

Today we have come to the stage of our plan that I advertised at the outset, when we first set out the plan of the UK government.

When we have to take special steps to protect the particularly vulnerable.

I said the moment would come where we needed to shield those with serious conditions. There are probably about 1.5 million in all.

And in a minute Robert Jenrick will set out the plan in detail.

But this shielding will do more than any other single measure that we are setting out to save life. That is what we want to do.

Also to reduce infection and to slow the spread of the disease.

We have to do more to make sure that the existing measures that we are taking are having the effect that we want.

So it is crucial that people understand tomorrow that the schools are closed.

And tomorrow you should not send your child to school unless you have been identified as a key worker.

And more generally in the view of the way people have responded over the last few days to the measures we have set out I want to say a bit more about how we interact outdoors.

Of course I want people to be able to go to the parks and open spaces and to enjoy themselves – it is crucial for health and mental and physical wellbeing.

But please follow the advice and don’t think that fresh air in itself automatically provides some immunity.

You have to stay two metres apart; you have to follow the social distancing advice.

And even if you think you are personally invulnerable, there are plenty of people you can infect and whose lives will then be put at risk.

And I say this now – on Sunday evening – take this advice seriously, follow it, because it is absolutely crucial.

And as I have said throughout this process we will keep the implementation of these measures under constant review and, yes of course, we will bring forward further measures if we think that is necessary.

Always remember that in following this advice- and I know how difficult that is – that each and every one of us.

You are doing your bit in following this advice to slow the spread of this disease.

The more we collectively slow the spread, the more time we give the NHS to prepare, the more lives we will save, the faster we will get through this.

And always remember – we will get through this, and we will beat it together.

Next Robert Jenrick to outline the shielding measures.