So­cial ‘bub­bles’ and cov­er­ing your face part of blue­print to get Bri­tain mov­ing

Daily Express - - FRONT PAGE - By Macer Hall Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

BORIS John­son last night urged Bri­tons to use “com­mon sense” to help free the coun­try from the coro­n­avirus lock­down.

The Prime Min­is­ter un­veiled a

50-page plan for get­ting em­ploy­ees back to work, chil­dren back at school and free­doms re­stored.

Key mea­sures in his blue­print in­clude a rec­om­men­da­tion for peo­ple to wear face masks in en­closed pub­lic spa­ces, such as shops, and on trains and buses where so­cial dis­tanc­ing is dif­fi­cult.

There are also hopes of a re­turn of tele­vised sport and cul­tural events to “boost na­tional morale”.

It was also sug­gested peo­ple from dif­fer­ent house­holds could soon be able to meet in so­cial “bub­bles”.

And dis­miss­ing crit­i­cism from op­po­si­tion politi­cians of the Gov­ern­ment’s chang­ing mes­sage, Mr John­son in­sisted he was putting his trust in “good, solid Bri­tish com­mon sense”.

Pre­sent­ing his three-stage plan for eas­ing the lock­down to MPs, the PM said: “We have be­gun our de­scent from the peak of the pan­demic but our jour­ney has reached the most per­ilous mo­ment.We will be driven not by hope or eco­nomic re­vival as an end in it­self, but by data and sci­ence and pub­lic health.

“And so the Gov­ern­ment is sub­mit­ting to the House to­day a plan which is con­di­tional and de­pen­dent as al­ways on the com­mon sense and ob­ser­vance of the Bri­tish peo­ple, and on con­tin­ual re-as­sess­ment of the data.”

In a live tele­vi­sion ques­tions ses­sion with mem­bers of the pub­lic last night, the PM in­sisted the exit from lock­down will be grad­ual.

He said: “We’re tak­ing baby steps.We think that’s the right way to do it.”

He said he was not ex­pect­ing a surge of peo­ple back at work this week but urged em­ploy­ees to be­gin speak­ing to their em­ploy­ers about a re­turn to the work­place.

He added: “If you can’t work from home, you should now think about go­ing to work, pro­vid­ing your work­place is Covid-se­cure and pro­vid­ing you can travel safely.”

Mr John­son con­firmed the rule change from to­mor­row for peo­ple to meet an­other in­di­vid­ual does al­low them to catch up with rel­a­tives.


He said: “There is new scope to see one other mem­ber of your fam­ily some­where out­doors. It may not sound like much but I hope you un­der­stand the con­straints we are all un­der. To keep this dis­ease at bay, we have to ad­vance very grad­u­ally.” Mr John­son con­firmed that the daily coro­n­avirus death toll rose by 210 yes­ter­day to a UK to­tal of 32,065, with 223,060 cases.

The PM ad­mit­ted that the Gov­ern­ment faced a “supremely dif­fi­cult” chal­lenge in eas­ing re­stric­tions without risk­ing a fresh surge in in­fec­tions.

He said: “Our chal­lenge now is to find a way forward that pre­serves our hard won gains, while eas­ing the bur­den of the lock­down.

“There could be no greater mis­take than to jeop­ar­dise ev­ery­thing we have striven to achieve by pro­ceed­ing too far and too fast.”

Mr John­son told MPs peo­ple will be al­lowed to leave their homes for un­lim­ited ex­er­cise or re­cre­ation from to­mor­row, while those who can­not work from home will be en­cour­aged to re­turn to work in the first part of his three-stage plan.

They will be able to meet friends in­di­vid­u­ally to so­cialise or play sports, in­clud­ing ten­nis or golf.


From next month, chil­dren will be able to re­turn to class­rooms in a phased re­open­ing of pri­mary schools in the se­cond stage of his plan.

And, in the third stage, ex­pected from July, many more busi­nesses, in­clud­ing cafes and res­tau­rants, will be al­lowed to re­open.

He said: “With more ac­tiv­ity out­side our homes, we would now ad­vise peo­ple to wear a cloth face cov­er­ing in en­closed spa­ces where so­cial dis­tanc­ing is not al­ways pos­si­ble, and you are more likely to come in con­tact with peo­ple you do not nor­mally meet.

“The rea­son is face cov­er­ings can help to pro­tect each other and re­duce the spread of the dis­ease, par­tic­u­larly if you have coro­n­avirus-like symp­toms.

“What we re­ally want peo­ple to do in this coun­try is to look at our so­cial dis­tanc­ing mea­sures and ap­ply them with com­mon sense.

“The two-me­tre rule, ad­dress­ing how you in­ter­act with peo­ple, these are ways in which we can push down this virus.

“It’s the com­mon sense of the

Bri­tish peo­ple that has been so cru­cial in get­ting the R [virus re­pro­duc­tion rate] down.

“Every­body un­der­stood roughly what to do in the first phase and it’s by ap­ply­ing com­mon sense that I think we’ll be suc­cess­ful in this se­cond phase as well.”

Mr John­son also said the se­cond stage could in­clude al­low­ing cul­tural and sport­ing events, tak­ing place be­hind closed doors, to be broad­cast for a much-needed boost to na­tional morale.

Adding that “noth­ing can sub­sti­tute for hu­man con­tact”, the PM said he has asked Gov­ern­ment med­i­cal ad­vis­ers to in­ves­ti­gate “when and how we could safely al­low peo­ple to ex­pand their house­hold group to in­clude one other house­hold, on a strictly re­cip­ro­cal ba­sis”.

One move un­der re­view is a sys­tem of so-called so­cial “bub­bles” of peo­ple get­ting to­gether that had been tested in New Zealand. Mr John­son told MPs Bri­tons had “faced a grave threat with com­mon sense, com­pas­sion and un­flinch­ing re­solve”.

He said: “We have to­gether ob­served the tough­est re­stric­tions on our free­doms in mem­ory, chang­ing our way of life on a scale unimag­in­able only months ago.”

His doc­u­ment, en­ti­tled Our Plan To Rebuild, said good progress had been made in re­duc­ing the coro­n­avirus in­fec­tion rate but warned that not all the Gov­ern­ment’s five tests for lift­ing the lock­down had been met.

Warn­ing that many re­stric­tions will con­tinue for the fore­see­able fu­ture, the doc­u­ment said: “This is not a short-term cri­sis. It is likely that Covid-19 will cir­cu­late in the hu­man pop­u­la­tion long term, pos­si­bly caus­ing pe­ri­odic epi­demics.

“In the near fu­ture, large epi­demic waves can­not be ex­cluded without con­tin­u­ing some mea­sures.”


In his fore­word to the doc­u­ment, the PM ad­mit­ted the death toll of more than 30,000 peo­ple in the UK had been “a heavy price”.

Mr John­son also cau­tioned that his plan did not bring “a quick re­turn to nor­mal­ity”.

He said a vac­cine or treat­ment to com­bat coro­n­avirus symp­toms is the “only fea­si­ble long-term so­lu­tion”.

He added: “While we hope for a break­through, hope is not a plan.

“A mass vac­cine or treat­ment may be more than a year away.

“So this plan seeks to re­turn life to as close to nor­mal as pos­si­ble, for as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble, as fast and fairly as pos­si­ble, in a way that is safe and con­tin­ues to pro­tect our NHS.”

Chief Sci­en­tific Ad­viser Sir Pa­trick Val­lance has said around 130,000 peo­ple in the UK are cur­rently es­ti­mated to be in­fected with coro­n­avirus. He added: “That should be com­ing down.”

The Prime Min­is­ter sug­gested peo­ple may soon be able to start go­ing out again, as long as they use com­mon sense and main­tain so­cial dis­tanc­ing

Pic­tures: EPA, PA & GETTY

Man with a plan... Boris John­son in St James’s Park in Lon­don yes­ter­day

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.