Coronavirus: Boris Johnson pleads with Brits to follow social distancing advice

22 March 2020, 17:17

By Kate Buck

Boris Johnson has pleaded with the country to follow rules on social distancing to stop the spread of coronavirus or risk "further measures" being put in place.

His move comes after thousands of Brits were pictured flocking to parks and other social gatherings over the weekend - despite being told to stay at home to stop spreading Covid-19.

He said: "Please don't think that fresh air means you have some immunity" and said people needed to stay at least 2 metres apart.

He added the these measure were under "constant review" and "further measures" would be brought in if needed.

When asked what these measures would entail, Mr Johnson said people wouldn't need "too much imagination" to understand what would need to happen.

He said: "And I say this now – on Sunday evening- take this advice seriously, follow it, because it is absolutely crucial.

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Boris Johnson has said stricter measures will be put in place if people do not do as they are asked
Boris Johnson has said stricter measures will be put in place if people do not do as they are asked. Picture: PA

"And as I have said throughout this process we will keep the implementation of these measures under constant review and, yes of course, we will bring forward further measures if we think that is necessary."

The announcement came just minutes after it was confirmed 281 people have now died in the UK from the virus - an increase of 48 from the day before.

Mr Johnson has come under increasing pressure to put the country on lockdown after thousands were pictured out and about in public - risking the virus being spread.

Research has so far suggested that the virus can exist inside humans for around 14 days before that person exhibits any symptoms, meaning an individual could infect any person they come into contact with in that time.

1.5 million people have now been identified as being vulnerable, and will be contacted by telephone and letter to ensure they stay at home and do not go out for a minimum for 12 weeks.

Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick said a new government "hub" is being created to ensure they receive medicines and groceries.

The goods will be left at their doorsteps to ensure there is no social contact and the army is being drafted in to assist with this.

Mr Jenrick also said that anybody who needs food and medicine in the vulnerable group will definitely get what they need, and it will be free until a "more sophisticated" solution is found.

The letters should start to arrive from Tuesday, and it will have a website and phone number that people can use to alert if they do not have a support network to get them food and medicines. 

The Prime Minister began today's press conference by thanking everyone for their "collective effort" and "sacrifice" in staying indoors.

He added: "We now have to take steps to protect the particularly vulnerable."

Mr Johnson also admitted the NHS need "far, far more" ventilators to cope with the rising cases.

It comes after 3,963 frontline NHS staff signed an open letter pleading with the Prime Minister for more protective equipment to stop them getting ill.