Boris Johnson says we must ‘keep going’ with lockdown as he prepares to extend shutdown to June


He will will tonight brace Britain for weeks more shutdown as he appears at his first press conference since his own coronavirus fight.

The lockdown looks set to go on until June

Boris Johnson will tell the nation tonight it’s still too early to ease the lockdown

The PM will host No10’s daily 5pm press conference for the first time in a month, since he was struck down by the virus himself, but he will be cautious about changing any measures.

Only small tweaks to the lockdown rules are on the cards, if anything.

And he said this afternoon on Twitter: “I know how hard and how stressful it has been to give up even temporarily those ancient and basic freedoms, not seeing friends, not seeing loved ones, working from home, managing the kids, worrying about your job and your firm.

“So let me say directly also to British business, to the shopkeepers, to the entrepreneurs, to the hospitality sector, to everyone on whom our economy depends: I understand your impatience, I share your anxiety.

“But I must ask you to keep going in the way that you have kept going so far, so we can protect our NHS and save lives.”

The measures are set to be reviewed by May 7, and the Government insists nothing will change before then.

The coronavirus laws have to be looked at every three weeks, which would take us to the last few days of May before anything major is changed.

And it’s looking more and more doubtful that anything will be lifted at all.

The PM – fresh from his return to work this week and his partner giving birth yesterday to a baby boy – will use the presser to warn that while infection rates are falling well, the government’s top scientists have warned him that easing up on the restrictions now is still very high risk.

A senior No10 source said: “He’ll talk about the progress we’ve made so far in slowing the spread of the virus, and how we won’t do anything that might risk a return to exponential growth”.

Allies say Boris is desperate to dampen down expectations among some Tory MPs and party donors for major changes, instead opting for a “caution first” approach – especially while the lockdown is still widely supported by the public.

While more Brits are urged to return to work if it is safe, and households could be given the opportunity to socialise with one other household group, it is now expected that much of the nation’s strict measures will remain in place throughout May.

Smaller shops where it’s possible to social distance could also be opened.

Schools are not set to open until June at the very earliest, as it stands, but ministers want to try and get some kids back before the summer break, HOAR revealed today.

And garden centres are not set to reopen until after the Bank Holiday weekend, ministers suggested yesterday.

The PM’s deputy, Dominic Raab, also yesterday prepared the ground for limited changes, as he cited Germany’s lockdown U-turn as a warning to Britain.

He told MPs Berlin has been forced to “think twice” on easing restrictions after its low infection rate began to rise again.

Mr Raab also said at last night’s No10 press conference: “Having relaxed restrictions in Germany over the past week, they have seen a rise in the transmission rate of coronavirus.

Nicola Sturgeon weighed in too, speaking just days after seeing out her ideas ending the lockdown, none of them will be put in place just yet.

And speaking last night, the SNP leader suggested no changes were incoming, despite a massive PR operation last week to lay out options to the public.

Last week she had said that the public needed to be treated like “grown ups” and suggested several ways measures could be eased including seeing people in bubbles of ten friends.

But now she’s had to row back on her words and say nothing will change anytime soon.

She told ITV last night: “People talk about lifting the lockdown, that is not going to be a flick of the switch moment – we’re going to have to be very careful, very slow, very gradual.

“I’m far from convinced at this stage that when we get to the next review point on the 7th of May we’ll be in a position to lift any of these measures right now, because the margins of manoeuvre that we’re operating in right now are very, very, very tight and narrow.”

She added this morning: “we are not confident the R number is very far below one yet”, meaning that the rate of transmission is still just around one person passing it to another.


“And Chancellor Merkel has said publicly, and she has made it clear, that they might need a second lockdown in Germany if the infection rate continues to rise.

“So, this risk is very real, and it is vital that we proceed carefully, guided by the scientific advice, so that our next step through this crisis is a sure-footed one.”

Britain’s deputy chief medical officer also urged extreme caution.

Jonathan Van Tam said: “We have to be really careful and really sure-footed, or this virus will come back. Nothing can be rushed”.

The PM said he would lay out plans to move to the next phase of the lockdown in the “coming days”, but warned Brits not to expect an exact date.

“We simply cannot spell out now how fast or slow or even when those changes will be made,” he stressed in a statement earlier this week.

He suggested that things could move very slowly, saying measures may be changed “one by one to fire up the engines of this vast UK economy”.

Yesterday Dominic Raab warned UK hopes of lifting any lockdown measures could be hit by a possible second wave of cases in Germany.
The country has seen its coronavirus transmission rate soar upwards after it relaxed some of its strict lockdown measures last week.

He said: “This issue of a second spike and the need to avoid it – it’s not a theoretical risk, and it is not confined to the UK.

“Having relaxed restrictions in Germany over the past week, they have seen a rise in the transmission rate of coronavirus.

“And Chancellor Merkel has said publically, and she has made it clear, that they might need a second lockdown in Germany if the infection rate continues to rise.”

Scientists have said that any lifting of the lockdown will see the transmission rate soar up again.

If it goes over one person infecting one other person, then the virus could continue to wreak havoc across the nation.

Ministers will get detailed advice from top experts about the exact impact of the measures on the health of the nation, who will then decide what changes to make.

Boris is chairing Cabinet today, and could discuss exactly how they can keep the transmission low while getting Britain into phase two of the fight against the bug.