‘WE SAID you should work from home if you can and if you can’t work from home not to work. We have now changed that message: if you can’t work from home we are now saying that you should go to work,’ Boris Johnson told the nation yesterday evening.
He added: ‘Those in construction for instance should be actively encouraged to get to work, avoiding using public transport if they can.’
The relaxation of the lockdown was announced despite another 269 people dying from coronavirus yesterday bringing the total to 31,855.
The ‘stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives’ slogan was cynically replaced with ‘stay alert, control the virus, save lives’.
However, the ‘stay at home’ advice will remain in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland after leaders in the three devolved nations said Johnson had not consulted them on the new message.
Johnson added: ‘From this Wednesday we want to encourage people to take unlimited exercise.’
Emphasising that he wants people to still refrain from using the bus, tube and train network he said: ‘We must and will maintain social distancing.’
He warned on social distancing rules: ‘We will increase the fines for the small minority that break them.’
He continued: ‘We have been fighting the most viscous threat to the people’s lives, certainly in my lifetime.
‘It is a fact we were facing a catastrophe whose worst case scenario could have been half a million fatalities.
‘It is thanks to you that millions of lives have been saved. It would be madness to throw all of that away with a second spike.
‘So no, this is not the time simply to end the lockdown, instead we are taking the first steps to change our emphasis.
‘Our ambition is that secondary school students that face exams next year will spend some time at least before the holidays with their teachers.
‘In July we will hope to re-open at least some of the hospitality places and other public places, given the scientific advice that says it is OK to do so.
‘And we will take measures to impose quarantine on those people coming into this country by air.’
He added on the issue of a resurgence of the coronavirus: ‘If there are problems we will not hesitate to put on the brakes.’
Labour leader Keir Starmer responded: ‘What the country really wanted tonight was clarity and a real sense of consensus and I don’t think that we got either. The basic message “stay alert” just isn’t clear enough.
‘And frankly this statement raises as many questions as it answers. On top of that, you now have different messages in England than in Scotland and Wales.’