Boris Johnson has this evening (Sunday, May 10) explained the first steps in the government's plans to reopen society after almost two months of coronavirus lockdown.
In his 15-minute address, the PM bombarded us with information about what we can now do, and plans for the coming months.
He underlined that passing the five tests already set out - sufficient care within the NHS; sustained and consistent fall in deaths, rate of infection decreasing to manageable levels; ensure supply of tests and PPE can meet future demand; confident changes would not cause a second peak the NHS could not cope with - are still key.
Boris then encouraged people who work in construction and manufacturing to go back to their jobs - but to avoid public transport.
We are now allowed to go out and exercise more, and drive longer distances, but must adhere to the social distancing rule of two metres.
He also introduced a five-step alert level plan in the fight against COVID-19. We have been at four, but we will move now to three. (Level 5 is the worst-case scenario.)
The rate of infection will be monitored daily and further lifting of restrictions will be conditional upon this.
As expected, lockdown lifting will be phased, with shops and primary schools looking at opening in June, pending review on June 1.
In July, some hospitality locations, such as restaurants, will be evaluated.
Piers Morgan was dismayed by the address, branding it a waste of time.
So nothing’s really changed then. Total waste of time. pic.twitter.com/ejALEGgfXI
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) May 10, 2020
Earlier today the Prime Minister revealed that the official slogan was changing from 'Stay at home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives' to 'Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives'.
We are, his messages stated, to follow new rules:
- Stay home as much as possible
- Work from home if you can
- Limit contact with others
- Keep your distance if you go out
- Wash your hands
- Self-isolate if you or anyone in your household has symptoms
We can control the virus if we all #StayAlert:
🏠 Stay home as much as possible
👩💻 Work from home if you can
🚫 Limit contact with others
↔️ Keep your distance if you go out
🧼 Wash your hands
🌡 Self-isolate if you or anyone in your household has symptoms
— UK Prime Minister (@10DowningStreet) May 10, 2020
However, the messaging was met by confusion and derision on social media by many who felt it completely unclear.
The thread #BorisHasFailed began trending on Twitter, with over 30,ooo posts.
Good Morning Britain presenter Susanna Reid was among those asking for clarity.
"Please can you explain 'limit contact with other people', she tweeted.
"Does this mean we can have contact with other people as long as we keep it limited? What is the limit? Which other people?
"Because all of a sudden there is no mention of keeping contact within households."
Please can you explain “limit contact with other people”. Does this mean we can have contact with other people as long as we keep it limited? What is the limit? Which other people? Because all of a sudden there is no mention of keeping contact within households. https://t.co/9FDqHq7b7h
— Susanna Reid (@susannareid100) May 10, 2020
Piers Morgan accused Boris Johnson of being responsible for the genocide of his own people this afternoon.
He railed: "The highest death rate in Europe, possibly the world. Boris Johnson is a dangerous imbecile, a puppet fool leader who is responsible for genocide against his own people.
"#BorisHasFailed? That barely cuts the truth."
The highest death rate in Europe, possibly the world. Boris Johnson is a dangerous imbecile, a puppet fool leader who is responsible for genocide against his own people. #BorisHasFailed? That barely cuts the truth.
— Piers Morgan 👁🗨 ᴾᵃʳᵒᵈʸ (@PiersMogan_GMB) May 10, 2020
Piers also issued a warning to the PM ahead of the broadcast.
If you’re going to make an address to the nation on prime-time Sunday night TV, you’d better make it worthwhile, Prime Minister," he wrote.
"Don’t waste our time with yet more vague platitudes & mixed messages - we need leadership not flannel."
If you’re going to make an address to the nation on prime-time Sunday night TV, you’d better make it worthwhile, Prime Minister @BorisJohnson. Don’t waste our time with yet more vague platitudes & mixed messages - we need leadership not flannel. pic.twitter.com/lXwzPCqcEQ
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) May 10, 2020
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also tweeted his criticism. "There should be no return to work," he said.
"If work cannot be done safely, it should not proceed. People must come before private profit."
There should be no return to work until it is safe to do so.
If work cannot be done safely, it should not proceed.
People must come before private profit.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) May 10, 2020
Scotland and Wales revolt
Meanwhile, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made it clear this morning that her nation would be sticking to the original plan.
The Sunday papers is the first I’ve seen of the PM’s new slogan. It is of course for him to decide what’s most appropriate for England, but given the critical point we are at in tackling the virus, #StayHomeSaveLives remains my clear message to Scotland at this stage. https://t.co/zrnEgTC15H
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) May 10, 2020
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford echoed that.
My message to the people of Wales hasn’t changed.
Staying at home is the best way you can protect yourself and others.
If you do need to leave the house for essential purposes, including exercise, it is vital that you keep 2 metres apart from others. https://t.co/VHC8FPWdcr
— Mark Drakeford (@fmwales) May 10, 2020
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