UK Prime Minister Addresses the Nation

Statement from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson

"The Coronvirus is the biggest threat this country has faced for decades and this country is not alone. All over the world we’re seeing the devastating impact of this invisible killer. So tonight, I want to update you on the latest steps we’re taking to fight the disease and what you can do to help. And I want to remind you that why the UK has been taking the approach we have. Without a huge national effort to halt the growth of this virus there will come a moment when no health service in the world could possibly cope.

Because there won’t be enough ventilators, enough intensive care beds, enough doctors and nurses. And as we have seen in other countries, which also have fantastic health care systems, that is the moment of real danger. To put it simply if too many people become seriously unwell at one time the NHS will be unable to handle it, meaning more people are likely to die, not just from coronavirus but from other illnesses as well.

So it’s vital to slow the spread of the disease, because that it the way we reduce the number of people needing hospital treatment at any one time, so we can protect the NHS’s ability to cope and save more lives, and that’s why we’ve been asking people to stay at home during this pandemic. And though huge numbers are complying, and I thank you all, the time has now come for us all to do more.

From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction. You must stay at home, because that’s the critical thing we must do to stop the disease spreading between households. That’s why people will only be allowed to leave their home for the following very limited purposes:

Shopping for basic necessities (as infrequently as possible), one form of exercise a day (eg. walk, run or cycle) alone or with members of your household, any medical need to provide care or to help a vulnerable person and travelling to and from work, but only when this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home, that’s all! These are the only reasons you should leave your home. You should not be meeting friends, if your friends ask you to meet, you should say no. You should not be meeting family members who do not live in your home. You should not be going shopping, except for essentials like food and medicine (and you should do this as little as you can). Use food delivery services where you can.

If you don’t follow the rules, the Police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings. To ensure compliance with the Government’s instruction to stay at home we will immediately close all shops selling non=essential good, including clothing and electronic stores and other premises like playgrounds, libraries and other outdoor gyms and places of worship.

We will stop gatherings of more than two people in public, excluding people you live with. And we will stop all social events, including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, excluding funerals. Parks will remain open for exercise, but gatherings will be dispersed.

No Prime Minister wants to enact measures like this. I know the damage this disruption is doing and will do to people’s lives, to their businesses and their jobs and that’s why we’ve produced a huge and unprecedented programme of support, both for workers and for business. And I can assure you that we will keep these restrictions under constant review. We will look again in three weeks and relax them if the evidence shows we are able to. But at present there are just no easy options, the way ahead is hard, and it is still true that many lives will sadly be lost. And it is also true that there is a clear way through. Day by day we are strengthening our NHS with 7,500 former clinicians, now coming back to the surface. With the time you buy, by simply staying at home, we are simply increasing our stocks of equipment, we are accelerating our search for treatments, we are pioneering work on a vaccine and we are buying millions of testing kits that will enable us to turn the tide on this invisible killer.

I want to thank everyone who is working flat out to beat the virus, everyone from the supermarket workers, to the transport workers, to the carers, to the nurses and doctors on the front line. But in this fight, we can be in no doubt that each and every one of us is directly enlisted. Each and every one of us is now obliged to join together to halt the spread of this disease, to protect our NHS and to save many, many thousands of lives. And I know as they have so many times in the past, the people of this country will rise to that challenge and we will come through it stronger than ever. We will beat the coronavirus and we will beat it together.

And therefore, I urge you, at this moment of national emergency to stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives."

23 Mar 2020
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