Prime Minister's statement on coronavirus (COVID-19): 20 March 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a statement on coronavirus.

PM statement on coronavirus: 20 March 2020

Good afternoon and thank you for coming again,

Today I am joined by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Jennie Harries deputy chief medical officer.

Yesterday I set out the ambition of this government to turn the tide against coronavirus within 3 months. And I want to repeat that determination today.

We are going to do it with testing. We are going to do it with new medicines, and with new digital technology that will help us to see the disease as it is transmitted, and thereby, by eliminating it, to stamp it out.

And above all, now we are going to defeat this disease with a huge national effort to slow the spread by reducing unnecessary social contact.

And I want to thank everyone for following the guidance we issued on Monday:

to stay at home for 7 days if you think you have the symptoms,

for 14 days if anyone in your household has either of the symptoms – a new continuous cough or a high temperature.

To avoid pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants.

To work from home if at all possible.

Keep washing your hands.

I know it has been tough.

I know it has been inconvenient.

But these actions that we’re all taking together are already helping to take the strain off our NHS.

Bit by bit, day by day, by your actions, your restraint and your sacrifice, we are putting this country in a better and stronger position, where we will be able to save literally thousands of lives, of people of all ages, people who don’t deserve to die now.

People whose lives can, must, and will be saved.

And as we take these actions together and as we make these sacrifices, we can see the impact on the real economy.

Already, fantastic British companies, already under huge strain, big and small.

Workers who are finding that their jobs are under threat or are going, through no fault of their own. And to all of them, we in government say: We will stand by you.

And I say that to companies, remember our joint objective: to beat this virus. And we will do everything in our power to help.

And in just a minute, Rishi is going to explain how we are going to help workers of all kinds to get through this crisis,

Supporting you directly in a way that Government has never been done before, in addition to the package we have already set out for business.

And of course these measures are intended to be temporary and of course I am confident that, in time, the UK economy is going to bounce back.

Of course it is.

But I must be absolutely clear with you: the speed of that eventual recovery depends entirely on our ability, our collective ability, to get on top of the virus now.

And that means we have to take the next steps, on scientific advice and following our plan, we are strengthening the measures announced on Monday which you will remember.

And of course people have already made a huge effort to comply with those measures for avoiding unnecessary social contact.

But we need now to push down further on that curve of transmission between us.

And so following agreement between all the formations of the United Kingdom, all the devolved administrations,

We are collectively telling, telling cafes, pubs, bars, restaurants to close tonight as soon as they reasonably can, and not to open tomorrow.

Though to be clear, they can continue to provide take-out services.

We’re also telling nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres to close on the same timescale.

Now, these are places where people come together, and indeed the whole purpose of these businesses is to bring people together. But the sad things is that today for now, at least physically, we need to keep people apart.

And I want to stress that we will review the situation each month, to see if we can relax any of these measures.

And listening to what I have just said, some people may of course be tempted to go out tonight. But please don’t.

You may think you are invincible, but there is no guarantee you will get mild symptoms, and you can still be a carrier of the disease and pass it on to others

So that’s why, as far as possible, we want you to stay at home, that’s how we can protect our NHS and save lives.

To repeat, I know how difficult this is, how it seems to go against the freedom-loving instincts of the British people. And I also know much, right now, workers and business deserve the financial reassurance we are giving them.

But we will get through this.

We will get through it together, and we will beat this virus.

And to ram that point home: the more effectively we follow the advice that we are given, the faster this country will stage both a medical and an economic recovery in full.

Published 20 March 2020