BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg questioned the Prime Minister about his address to the nation, saying he had failed to provide clarity on what exactly is allowed and what is not. She said many people who had listened to his statement questioned why he had watered down his previous “stay at home” message to “stay alert”. Mr Johnson said his latest advice was fitting, given how the pandemic had progressed and said the French Government had struck a similar tone in their advice to the public.
“For those who think the ‘stay alert’ is not the right message, I think it is absolutely the right message for our country now,” he said.
He said he was “interested” in the fact that France had today opted for “roughly the same sort of thing as our message” in their official advice.
He added: “And I think it’s the right way to go.”
Boris Johnson said ‘stay alert’ is the right message to issue to the public
Sir Patrick Vallance warned lockdown measures would be reimposed inf the infection rate soared
The BBC journalist also questioned if Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief scientific adviser, and Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, had approved the change in advice from “stay at home” to “stay alert”.
Prof Whitty refused to confirm if he had reviewed the advice before it was issued.
But he said he and Sir Patrick had been involved in discussions with Ministers at each stage.
Prof Whitty, Boris Johnson and Sir Patrick Vallance speak at the press conference
Ms Kuenssberg told the Prime Minister “a lot of people felt your speech last night raised as many questions as it gave answers”.
She pointed to rules which say workers can see their colleagues but grandparents are not allowed to see their grandchildren.
She claimed many people had been left feeling “perplexed” by the latest revision of the rules.
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People will now be allowed to meet one person from outside their household
Laura Kuenssberg said many people had been confused about lockdown rules after the PM’s statement
She said: “What do you say to the millions of people watching right now who may well be a bit perplexed by what you’re actually trying to say and what they are meant to do?”
Mr Johnson responded by saying the UK had made so much progress in combatting the virus and pushing the “R” number down – the rate at which the disease is spread.
He said the country had reached the stage where it was ready to made progress in relaxing rules “very, very cautiously”.
UK coronavirus map live
Sir Patrick said “science has had input to the whole plan” and reiterated Mr Johnson’s alert system is a crucial part in tracking how fast the virus is spreading.
He said it is “crucially important” that the public did not view the shift from “stay at home” to “stay alert” as an excuse to become careless.
He said: “It’s very, very important that this is done slowly and it’s done carefully and we don’t rush to measures that could push the ‘R’ above one.
Two women observe social distancing in a park
“And therefore it’s also important that there’s a measurement system in place and that measurement system can allow us to track what is happening with the numbers – numbers of infection and the ‘R’ – and that’s why the alert system that’s in place, that’s going to be put in place in order to measure this, is a crucial part of it to be able to know where we are.”
He also warned that if people did not continue to adhere to official guidelines the infection rate could soar and lockdown measures would be slapped back on.
Sir Patrick said: “And it is obviously true that we must all be alert during this in terms of hand washing, in terms of social distancing, in terms of understanding what role we play because if we allow this to get out of control, if we allow the transmission to increase between households then we go back to where we go back to where we were and more measures come in.”
Mr Johnson spent an hour taking questions from MPs today in the Commons about the new rules.