Boris Johnson: 'No hesitation' in making lockdown stricter if Covid-19 infections rise

11 May 2020, 16:48

Boris Johnson made a statement in the Commons
Boris Johnson made a statement in the Commons. Picture: PA

By Ewan Somerville

Boris Johnson has warned he will “have no hesitation” in bringing back stricter lockdown rules if coronavirus deaths and infections surge.

The Prime Minister issued the cautionary message as he published a three-stage “roadmap” to reopen the economy and “control” the virus.

From Wednesday, people in England will be allowed to meet one member of another household in parks while following social distancing, drive to places for leisure and will be urged to wear cloth face coverings and return to work if they cannot work from home.

But the PM warned that if the Government’s new virus ‘alert level’ rises from its current four to the most severe stage five, the restrictions will tighten.

"We will have no hesitation in putting on the brakes, delaying or reintroducing measures – locally, regionally or nationally,” he told the Commons:

He said ministers would be driven “not by hope or economic recovery as an end in itself but by data and science and public health”, adding there was a “vast amount more to be done” to tackle the crisis in care homes.

Dashing hopes of a quick return to normal, he added: “We have begun our descent from the peak of the epidemic but our journey has reached the most perilous moment where a wrong move could be disastrous."

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer hit back in the Commons, calling for “clarity” over the new measures.

He told MPs: “What the country needs at this time is clarity and reassurance and at the moment both are in pretty short supply and at the heart of the problem it seems is that the Prime Minister made a statement last night before the plan was written, or at least finalised.”

The “smarter” social distancing measures unveiled this morning also include a plan to reopen all primary schools for a month before summer, beginning on June 1.

Step two may also see sporting events resuming behind closed doors and some non-essential shops reopening.

Pubs, hairdressers and cinemas would not get to reopen until July 4 - step three - at the earliest, and only with strict social distancing in force.

The Government has warned its five tests to lift lockdown have not yet been met.

All three devolved leaders in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have refused to adopt the PM's new "stay alert" slogan, as they stuck by strict "stay at home" rules and made only minor changes to their lockdown.

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