‘Apply common sense’ over lockdown easing, PM urges public
PUBLISHED: 17:11 11 May 2020 | UPDATED: 17:58 11 May 2020
Prime minister Boris Johnson has stressed the need for the public to “apply their common sense” as a changes to lockdown restrictions in England are introduced.
Speaking in the House of Commons this afternoon, Monday, May 11, Mr Johnson told MPs the next stage of the UK’s response to the coronavirus outbreak would “inevitably involve complexities”.
In response to a question from leader of the opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, about the different rules across the UK’s devolved nations, he said there would be “myriad hypothetical questions”.
Mr Johnson’s statement - his first address to the House on the Covid-19 pandemic - followed confusion after his pre-recorded speech to the nation on Sunday evening.
The slogan ‘Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives’ was replaced with the updated instructions: ‘Stay alert, control the virus, save lives’.
Questions about returning to work, seeing family and friends and changes to outdoor exercise were asked in the hours after the broadcast.
And the government followed the Sunday announcement with the publication of a 50-page document charting the UK’s “roadmap to recovery”.
Titled ‘Our plan to rebuild’, the recovery strategy details the tests the UK will have to meet in order for a phasing-out of lockdown restrictions to begin to be rolled out across England - in stages.
And speaking in the Commons, Mr Johnson stressed the need for the public to follow the rules.
He described the lifting of lockdown as an “extraordinarily difficult balance to strike” and added that the path to recovery was reliant on the British public’s “common sense and observance”.
He said: “We will be driven not by hope or economic revival but by data, science and public health.”
Mr Johnson said the document - and associated slogans - were intended to mark a “shift in emphasis”.
People who cannot work from home, are now being encouraged, to go to work, subject to guidance to be published this week on making workplaces ‘Covid-secure’.
And from Wednesday, there are no limits on the frequency of people taking outdoor exercise, including sitting in parks - but the fines for the “small minority” who break the rules are set to be increased, from £100 up to £3,600.
However, the clinically extremely vulnerable group must continue to shield and the prime minister said government will “look at every possible way to support the most vulnerable”.
Cultural and sporting events are to be broadcast but held behind closed doors, to offer a “much-needed boost to national moral”.
The SAGE scientific committee will look into when households can expand into self-contained “bubbles” to help people cope with loneliness.
And the prime minister stressed: “If the alert level begins to rise, we will have no hesitation in putting on the brakes.”
But the leader of the opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, quizzed Mr Johnson on when the back to work guidelines on Covid-secure workplaces would be ready, and stressed that these would be needed by Tuesday, May 12, if workplaces are to be ready for workers on Wednesday.
He said: “There are lots of questions but so far precious few answers. People need reassurance and clarity.”
The prime minister replied: “There will be myriad hypothetical questions. But let’s be absolutely clear - I think everybody understands what we are trying to do together.
“And that is working together as a country to obey social distancing rules that everyone understands.
“This is the moment for the whole country to come together, obey those rules and apply their common sense in the application of those rules.”