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Thu, 2 July 2020

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Boris Johnson 'will not hesitate' to bring back lockdown if coronavirus spikes — as Chris Whitty says two-metre move not ‘risk-free’

Boris Johnson 'will not hesitate' to bring back lockdown if coronavirus spikes — as Chris Whitty says two-metre move not ‘risk-free’

Boris Johnson (Credit: PA)

3 min read

Boris Johnson says he "will not hesitate" to re-introduce lockdown measures at a local and national level if Covid-19 infection rates spike, after announcing further relaxations on restrictions.

The Prime Minister said that although he was happy to proceed with the reopening of large parts of the hospitality industry on July 4  - along with allowing two households to meet up indoors - he would reverse relaxations should the number of cases begin to climb again.

He told the Government's final daily coronavirus briefing: "If the virus begins to run out of control, I will not hesitiate to put on the handbrake and reverse some of these changes at a local and national level if required.

"There is no doubt we are beating back this virus, and with your continued co-operation and good judgement, we will beat it once and for all."

The warning came as the UK's chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, said the easing of measures was "absolutely not risk free" and made clear the Government may have to "go back on" some decisions if infections rise.

German authorities in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia on Tuesday reimposed lockdown restrictions in two districts after a spike in cases saw more than 500,000 people affected.

Local authorities in the UK will also have the ability to implement local lockdowns in areas where cases are spreading.

'PERSEVERED'

Mr Johnson described the illness, which has claimed more than 42,000 lives in the UK, as "a nasty virus which will want to take advantage of our carelessness".

"We are only able to make these changes because we have persevered together and stuck to our path. We had five tests and we met them.  We had a plan and we stuck to it," he added.

"The Government asked a huge amount of all of you and the people of this country met that challenge with good humour and common sense."

The PM was joined by Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance at the daily briefing, the last regular one the Government is planning.

The top advisers made clear that the public would need to remain vigilant to prevent further spread - and stressed that some decisions may need to be reversed if cases spike.

 “All of us, in every country, are having to find a sustainable balance," Professor Whitty said. 

"Because we have to live alongside this virus, for the foreseeable future, and find a way."

He added: “No decision is going to be risk- free. It's about finding a balance of risks that allows us to operate in a reasonably normal way for a prolonged period.”

Although social distancing guidelines have been cut from two metres to "one metre plus" in England, Proffessor Whitty said people should try to keep to two metres where possible.

And he said of the move: “It is not risk-free, absolutely not risk-free.

"Nobody thinks it is, and we may, at some point, say that particular bit of the decisions that were taken is too much of risk, with the benefit of hindsight, and we have to go back on it.

"But it is a balance of risk informed by reasonable professional judgements.”

Meanwhile Sir Patrick said: "The disease is growing across the world.

"It's coming down in the UK. But it hasn't gone away, and we need to be absolutely sure that with the new relaxation, that we stay rigorously to the things that need to happen in order to stop the spread.”

 

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