Daily Express


‘ Spirit of to­geth­er­ness will pull us through six months of fight­ing in­vis­i­ble en­emy’

- By Macer Hall Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor Society · European Politics · Politics · Boris Johnson · England · United Kingdom · Government of the United Kingdom · Nicola Sturgeon · Scotland · YouGov · Mel Stride · Treasury Select Committee · Cheryl Gillan

THE coun­try needs to sum­mon “dis­ci­pline, re­solve and the spirit of to­geth­er­ness” to save lives this win­ter.

In a heart­felt tele­vi­sion ap­peal, Boris John­son warned of “dif­fi­cult months to come” with virus in­fec­tions soar­ing.

But he in­sisted there are “great days ahead” if Bri­tons can rally to de­feat the dis­ease and avoid the dev­as­ta­tion of a sec­ond lock­down. The PM said:

“Never in our his­tory has our col­lec­tive des­tiny and our col­lec­tive health de­pended so com­pletely on our in­di­vid­ual be­hav­iour.”

He spoke out af­ter un­veil­ing new re­stric­tions in Eng­land aimed at curb­ing a sec­ond wave in­clud­ing a 10pm cur­few for pubs, bars and restau­rants and an ap­peal for peo­ple to work from home if they can.

Mr John­son warned that tougher mea­sures were in the pipe­line if the pack­age failed to re­verse the surge in in­fec­tions.

He said: “If we fol­low these sim­ple rules to­gether, we will get through this win­ter to­gether.

“If we were forced into a new na­tional lock­down that would threaten not just jobs and liveli­hoods but the lov­ing hu­man con­tact on which we all de­pend.”

Ad­mit­ting his own hes­i­ta­tion to re­strict our lives, the PM said: “I am deeply, spir­i­tu­ally re­luc­tant to make any of these im­po­si­tions or in­fringe any­one’s free­dom.

“But un­less we take ac­tion the risk is that we will have to go for tougher mea­sures later, when the deaths have al­ready mounted and we have a huge caseload of in­fec­tion such as we had in the spring.”

The ad­dress fol­lowed meet­ings of his Cab­i­net and emer­gency plan­ning com­mit­tee Co­bra to en­dorse his new re­stric­tions.

Firms will face £ 10,000 fines for fail­ing to en­force Covid safety rules while the penalty for flout­ing the ban on so­cial gath­er­ings of more than six peo­ple or fail­ing to wear a mask when nec­es­sary will dou­ble to £ 200.

Re­tail work­ers and cab­bies will now have to wear face cov­er­ings and moves to bring back spec­ta­tors to sports sta­di­ums are on hold.

A snap YouGov opin­ion poll last night showed 78 per cent of peo­ple quizzed backed the new mea­sures.

Mr John­son de­scribed the strug­gle against coro­n­avirus as “the sin­gle big­gest cri­sis the world has faced in my life­time”.

He said: “In less than a year this dis­ease has killed al­most a mil­lion peo­ple and caused havoc to economies ev­ery­where.

“Here in the UK we mourn ev­ery per­son we have lost, and we grieve with their fam­i­lies. And yet I am more cer­tain than ever that this is a strug­gle we will win.”

Mr John­son said the coun­try had “pulled to­gether in a spirit of na­tional sac­ri­fice and com­mu­nity” dur­ing lock­down ear­lier this year.

How­ever he added: “But we have to ac­knowl­edge that while the vast ma­jor­ity have com­plied with the rules there have been too many breaches, too many op­por­tu­ni­ties for our in­vis­i­ble en­emy to slip through un­de­tected.

“The virus has started to spread again in an ex­po­nen­tial way. In­fec­tions are up, hospi­tal ad­mis­sions are climb­ing.”

Mr John­son in­sisted his Gov­ern­ment was work­ing “night and day” to pro­tect peo­ple.

He added: “And yet the sin­gle great­est weapon we bring to this fight is the com­mon sense of the peo­ple them­selves – the joint re­solve of this coun­try to work to­gether to sup­press Covid now.”

In a swipe at his crit­ics, he said: “To those who say we don’t need this stuff, and we should leave peo­ple to take their own risks, I say these risks are not our own.

“The tragic re­al­ity of hav­ing Covid is that your mild cough can be some­one else’s death knell.” He ar­gued it was un­re­al­is­tic to try to “lock up” the el­derly to pro­tect them while leav­ing the rest of the pop­u­la­tion free of re­stric­tions.

Urg­ing the na­tion to pull to­gether, he said: “There are un­ques­tion­ably dif­fi­cult months to come and the fight against Covid is by no means over.

“I have no doubt, how­ever, that there are great days ahead. But now is the time for us all to sum­mon the dis­ci­pline, and the re­solve, and the spirit of to­geth­er­ness that will carry us through.”

Speak­ing to MPs in the Com­mons ear­lier, Mr John­son warned that the coun­try was fac­ing a “per­ilous turn­ing point”.

The in­fec­tion rate in the UK has al­most quadru­pled from around 1,000 a day a month ago to 4,000 or more a day now.

Daily hospi­tal ad­mis­sions have more than dou­bled over the last fort­night.

The PM said: “Tens of thou­sands of daily in­fec­tions in Oc­to­ber would lead to hun­dreds of daily deaths in Novem­ber and those num­bers would con­tinue to grow un­less we act.”

Mr John­son said the new re­stric­tions in Eng­land had been “care­fully judged” to re­duce the in­fec­tion rate while min­imis­ing the dam­age to lives and liveli­hoods.

Apol­o­gis­ing to pubs, bars and restau­rants for the new re­stric­tions, he said: “I am sorry this will hurt many busi­nesses just get­ting back on their feet, but we must act to stop the virus from be­ing trans­mit

ted in bars and restau­rants. No Bri­tish gov­ern­ment would wish to sti­fle our free­doms in the ways that we have found nec­es­sary this year.

“Yet even now we can draw some com­fort from the fact that schools and univer­si­ties and places of wor­ship are stay­ing open, shops can serve their cus­tomers, con­struc­tion work­ers can go to build­ing sites, and the vast ma­jor­ity of the UK econ­omy can con­tinue mov­ing for­wards.” Un­der ques­tion­ing from MPs, he in­sisted the 10pm pub cur­few was de­signed to re­duce drink­ing that could make peo­ple less likely to ob­serve so­cial dis­tanc­ing rules.

He said: “What we have seen from the ev­i­dence is that, alas, the spread of dis­ease tends to hap­pen later at night, af­ter more al­co­hol has been con­sumed. This is one way that we see of driv­ing down the R with­out do­ing ex­ces­sive eco­nomic dam­age.

“That is the bal­ance we have to strike.”

Mr John­son re­jected crit­i­cism from op­po­si­tion MPs of the track and trace sys­tem.

He claimed the UK had seen a higher rate of in­fec­tion com­pared to some other Euro­pean coun­tries be­cause of the dif­fi­culty of get­ting Brits to obey the rules, adding:

“Our coun­try is a free­dom- lov­ing coun­try. It is very dif­fi­cult to ask the Bri­tish pop­u­la­tion uni­formly to obey guide­lines.”

Mr John­son faced con­cern from some Tory MPs that fur­ther re­stric­tions could wreck the econ­omy.

Mel Stride, the Tory chair­man of the Com­mons Trea­sury Se­lect Com­mit­tee, warned that lock­downs “de­stroy jobs and also per­sonal well- be­ing.”

He said: “Yes, we should lis­ten very care­fully to the epi­demi­ol­o­gists but we must also lis­ten very care­fully to the Trea­sury, to busi­nesses and to econ­o­mists.”

Tory MP Dame Cheryl Gil­lan asked the PM to con­sider grand­par­ents who can­not see their fam­i­lies, wor­ried par­ents who can­not ac­cess tests for their fam­i­lies and busi­nesses fac­ing fi­nan­cial ruin.

Nick Fletcher, another Tory MP, said: “The blan­ket re­stric­tions are af­fect­ing all peo­ple of all ages, im­ma­te­rial of the ac­tual risk posed to them.”

“Many peo­ple’s lives are be­ing af­fected tremen­dously by these re­stric­tions, es­pe­cially the young.”

Barely an hour af­ter Mr John­son set out his re­stric­tions for Eng­land, Scot­tish leader Ni­cola Stur­geon an­nounced even more far- reach­ing re­stric­tions north of the bor­der.

She said the mea­sures, which in­clude a ban on house­hold vis­its, were nec­es­sary to bring the virus “back un­der con­trol” in Scot­land.

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 ??  ?? Talk­ing point... Cab­i­net meet­ing
Talk­ing point... Cab­i­net meet­ing
 ?? Pic­tures: AN­DREW PAR­SONS ONS / 10DOWNING STREET ?? Boris John­son speaks dur­ing his ad­dress to the coun­try, ap­peal­ing for to­geth­er­ness
Pic­tures: AN­DREW PAR­SONS ONS / 10DOWNING STREET Boris John­son speaks dur­ing his ad­dress to the coun­try, ap­peal­ing for to­geth­er­ness

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