Boris Johnson has urged business owners to not lose patience as he returns to work following his own battle with COVID-19.
Making a speech this morning (April 27) outside No. 10, the prime minister said that while the nation is now “beginning to turn the tide” on this disease, he refuses to risk a second peak by reducing lockdown measures too soon.
Acknowledging concerns from business-owners, who are keen to get back to normal, he said: “I refuse to throw away all the effort and sacrifice of the British people” and risk a second peak of the outbreak which could lead to “economic disaster”.
“I ask you to contain your impatience.”
Johnson said the UK is now seeing signs that the peak is passing – including fewer hospital admissions and fewer COVID-19 patients in intensive care.
Comparing the fight to someone being attacked, he remarked: “If this virus were a physical assailant, an unexpected and invisible mugger – which I can tell you from personal experience, it is – then this is the moment when we have begun together to wrestle it to the floor.
“And so it follows that this is the moment of opportunity, this is the moment when we can press home our advantage, it is also the moment of maximum risk.”
Addresses businesses directly the PM said he can see the long-term consequences of lockdown as clearly as anyone and understands the urgency to get things back to normal.
He remarked: “I entirely share your urgency, it’s the government’s urgency, and yet we must also recognise the risk of a second spike, the risk of losing control of that virus and letting the reproduction rate go back over one because that would mean not only a new wave of death and disease but also an economic disaster and we would be forced once again to slam on the brakes across the whole country and the whole economy and reimpose restrictions in such a way as to do more and lasting damage.
“And so I know it is tough and I want to get this economy moving as fast as I can but I refuse to throw away all the effort and the sacrifice of the British people and to risk a second major outbreak and huge loss of life and the overwhelming of the NHS and I ask you to contain your impatience because I believe we are coming now to the end of the first phase of this conflict.”
Johnson went on to re-enforce the government message that the UK must meet five tests before entering the second phase – and as of yet, he can’t give any indication as to when that might be.
The five points of which the Government must be satisfied of before considering lockdown changes are:
- Confidence that the NHS can still provide sufficient critical care and specialist treatment across the UK.
- Need to see a sustained and consistent fall in the daily death rate to be confident we are beyond the peak.
- Reliable data from SAGE that the infection rate has decreased to manageable levels.
- Testing capacity and PPE is in hand to meet supply for future demand.
- Not risk a second peak of infection that overwhelms the NHS.
Only when these five factors are satisfied will the government begin to ease lockdown measures.
He added the government would make decisions with “maximum transparency”.