Boris Johnson grilled on 'vague' UK coronavirus lockdown advice

Boris Johnson grilled on 'vague' UK coronavirus lockdown advice
Copyright AP
Copyright AP
By Alasdair SandfordLuke Hurst
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The British prime minister's 'stay alert' message has been cricitised by politicians and members of the public and caused tension with UK nations.


Boris Johnson has faced criticism from ordinary people as well as opposition politicians over his handling of the easing of lockdown restrictions in the UK.

At Monday's daily UK coronavirus briefing from Downing Street, the prime minister took a mix of questions from the press and members of the public.

One such question came from Pooja in Solihull, who focused on the PM's apparent vagueness over who should be returning to work this week. He was roundly criticised for not being clear enough in a statement given on Sunday night, with a 50-page document outlining the details only published on the government website the next day.

Asked by Pooja why he had been so vague about who could start back at work and which businesses can reopen this week, Johnson said: “Everybody has got the clarity of the message” - referring to the original government slogan of 'Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives'. He said people had followed that guidance, and stayed home.

Going forward this week, he added, if you can’t work from home you should talk to your employer about getting back to work. “It must be safe at work and safe to get there," he said. The new slogan is 'Stay alert, control the virus, save lives'.

'Wrong move could be a disaster'

With the UK coming down from the peak of infections and deaths from COVID-19, "the journey has reached most perilous moment where a wrong move could be a disaster,” the Prime Minister told Parliament earlier on Monday.

Following criticism directed at Boris Johnson's statement in Downing Street on Sunday night, which has caused widespread confusion, the PM laid out the plan at an appearance at the Commons.

He explained that:

  • People who cannot work from home should be encouraged to go to work if their business or organisation is allowed to operate

  • Guidance for businesses on making workplaces secure will be published

  • People should avoid public transport if possible

  • People should wear cloth face coverings in enclosed spaces

  • There are no limits on outdoors exercise, and you can rest in a park or play sports with members of your household or with one other person from another household as long as social distancing is observed

  • You can drive as far as you like to outdoor spaces

  • The UK could move to Phase 2 no earlier than 1 June, when there will be a phased reopening of shops, a return for some pupils to school

UK nations at odds with Johnson plan for England

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon outlined her government's strategy concerning the lockdown on Monday -- and it contrasts sharply with Boris Johnson's plan for the UK.

She told a daily briefing it was "too risky" to change restrictions, and the message to people remains: "stay home". People are not being encouraged to go to work, she said. Johnson's "stay alert" instruction in his TV address on Sunday night applied to England and Wales, the first minister explained.

Sturgeon gave the latest figures for Scotland, saying five more people had died in the last 24-hour period, bringing the total number of COVID-19 deaths to 1,862.

Later the British government said there were 210 deaths from COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours in the UK as a whole, with that number including those inside and outside of hospitals.

At least 32,065 people have died in the UK, making it the second-worst hit country in the world after the US, according to currently available data.

Here is a summary of Monday's developments on the coronavirus pandemic from Europe and around the world:

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