Why Houdini Boris will need escape skills for the perils ahead

PLATELL’S PEOPLE: Why Houdini Boris will need escape skills for the perils ahead

Good news at last. Boris Johnson will not face a criminal inquiry over his friendship with pole-dancing IT entrepreneur Jennifer Arcuri.

The Prime Minister had accompanied her on overseas business trips while Mayor of London, visited her flat for ‘technology lessons’ — and authorised thousands of pounds for her ‘fact-finding’ work.

Many believed Boris was toast. Another affair they thought — though she’s refused to confirm it — but this was different. It involved public money, the alleged misappropriation of taxpayers’ funds.

Now the Independent Office for Police Conduct has declared there’s nothing to investigate.

True, he still faces an ethics inquiry by the Greater London Authority over his relationship with Arcuri. And that’s something that would finish off many a politician — imagine Sunny Jim Callaghan, for instance, facing questions about ‘intimacy’ with a pole-dancing tech expert. But to Boris it’s nothing, now he’s seen off the criminal inquiry. The Houdini of British politics has survived. Again. He really is extraordinary.

Pictured: Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson takes part in the ‘Clap For Our Carers’ initiative in support of the National Health Service (NHS) in Downing Street in London, May 21

That’s not to say life is as rosy as Boris would like it. Yes, he’s got his dream job. But he has lost some of his verve. Hardly surprising since he was in intensive care so recently. He’s not yet back to the man who toured the country with vim and bonhomie before bulldozing his way to victory in the election just months ago.

He’s got a new child to keep him awake all night. He faces a robotic inquisitor at Prime Minister’s Questions in Keir Starmer, and a Labour Party with more zip in its step.

On top of this, we are looking at the worst recession for 300 years and his party’s getting tetchy about his handling of the lockdown. A poll in this newspaper reveals Chancellor Rishi Sunak is the most popular Tory, followed by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. Boris is third.

Sunak and Raab represent the true hawkish spirit of the Conservative Party, and want to get the economy running again. But Boris sometimes seems indecisive, flapping around like a wounded dove.

Who would want to be in his position now? Well Boris, for sure — as a child he said he wanted to be king of the world. But our political Houdini will need all his skills to escape the perils ahead.

A survey reveals that more than half of Londoners say they will race to their local pub the minute they are allowed to open again. Which just proves how much people lie in surveys. By my calculation, the pub-rush will involve 95 per cent of us…

Union boss’s lesson in spite  

Having been caught describing pupils as ‘mucky’, germ-spreading and snotty, Mary Bousted, leader of the teachers union blocking kids returning to school, apologised. ‘I am wrong sometimes. Blunt probably too often (it’s a Northern thing),’ she said.

What an insult to Northerners. Having almost married a Yorkshireman and spent many happy years up North with him, I know the thing they have in common is a desire for their children to get the schooling many of their generation never had.

How dare Ms Bousted deny all kids that fundamental right with her naked Left-wing posturing.

Our hearts go out to Kate

News that ITV presenter Kate Garraway’s husband Derek Draper is still in hospital, having been there since the end of March, is so saddening.

Especially when we read social media posts from Kate revealing how her heart — and those of their two children — sink ‘every day’, searching for ‘little green shoots of hope that this dreadful disease is easing and that hopefully soon we might all be able to see each other again and hug’.

We wish the same for you Kate, and for your children, and for everyone going though such agony — and that there will come a day when we can all hug again.

Pictured: Kate Garraway with her husband Derek Draper, who is currently in hospital

Receiving news of his knighthood, Captain Tom said: ‘I’d like to thank Her Majesty. I will remain at your service.’ The ex soldier, who’s now 100, will put Queen and country first until the end. Unlike Captain Wales, who served ten years in the Army, then marched off to a life of luxury in a £14 million grace-and-favour Los Angeles mansion with wife Meghan and baby Archie — abandoning Queen and country not far into life’s journey.

I’ve known Anthea Turner a little for a long time and am happy she’s about to marry again after her bankrupt ex, Grant Bovey, ran off with a younger blonde. There is something unconquerable about the former Blue Peter star’s belief in love. A blue badge? No, she deserves a silver one.

Liz still luscious 

I am in awe of Liz Hurley, 54, who posted a picture reclining on a faux fur rug looking simply sensational in a Versace dress she first wore in her early 30s. Two decades on and she can still fit into it! Crikey, after self-isolation in lockdown, eating fast food — all right, junk food — in my Sweaty Betty stretch leggings, I can’t fit into a designer dress I wore two months ago!


Left: Liz Hurley, 54, poses in a dress she first wore in her early 20s. Right: Liz Hurley, pictured at the 1999 CFDA awards in the same dress

She enjoyed eight years as the First Lady married to President Bill Clinton; four years as Secretary of State; she ran for President herself; and she stood by her man after the Monica Lewinsky affair.

A new novel entitled Rodham by the best-selling author Curtis Sittenfeld poses the question: What if Hillary hadn’t married Bill? To which the answer is: Hillary who? 

Corona shout-outs

  • To my pal Kerry who queued in his car for half an hour to get a family pack of KFC on the first day they opened, then dropped it on my doorstep. I am ashamed to say I ate nearly all of it.
  • To Prince Charles for celebrating the nation’s ‘new-found love of gardening’ that has bloomed in lockdown. Like me, Chas is a life-long gardener and I’ve had to make do with last year’s plants as nurseries were shut. Now I can hardly contain my excitement about rooting around in them this weekend.
  • A shout down to the hundreds of people who flocked to my local Hampstead Heath to enjoy the sunshine on Thursday when it reached 82f. No nimbyism here. I don’t begrudge sharing this wooded wilderness and its lakes. I just wish they’d take their dog mess — left in bags — beer cans and pizza boxes home.

Some of the viewers addicted to the teenage TV series Normal People about angst and young love say they need subtitles to understand the Irish accents of the actors, especially that of County Kildare-born hunk Paul Mescal. Oh do get over yourselves. Most of the sensational six-hour series is just adolescent slobbering, kissing and copulating — understandable in any language.

Pop fan’s brave note

Yesterday was the third anniversary of the Manchester Arena bombing, which killed 22 mostly young people at a pop concert.

Services were held throughout the city, and the singer Ariana Grande, who was starring at the arena when the bomb went off, said with feeling: ‘Not a day goes past that this doesn’t affect you and all of us still.’

Those words would chime with Freya Lewis, now 17, who lost her best friend Nell Jones in the blast and suffered terrible injuries herself.

‘Nell will forever be with me. I’m at times overwhelmed by grief,’ she says — before adding, with such an uplifting sense of human spirit: ‘But I feel like I’ve had a second chance, I feel more grateful for everything and everyone.

‘My main goal for the rest of my life is to be happy and remember how lucky I am to be here.’    

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Boris Johnson faces a tsunami of coronavirus troubles – the Tories must quickly come together and turn the tide – The Sun

THE wheel of fortune has turned badly for the Tories.

Only five months ago, they pulverised Labour in the General Election, winning their biggest Commons majority since the 1980s.

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As the architect of that overwhelming triumph, Boris Johnson was the dominant figure in the political landscape.

He was the king of all he surveyed. His reign looked secure.

But now the mood has soured thanks to the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic, it is vital the Tories come together to maintain their place at the top.

As the crisis continues, voters are increasingly disillusioned with the Government’s approach, which has seen Britain endure the highest Covid-19 death rate in Europe.

Sky-high ratings turn to rising fury

When the Prime Minister went into intensive care at the beginning of April, the nation wanted to rally round.

His own personal ordeal became a symbol of the country’s fight against the deadly menace.

That feeling of solidarity was reflected in Boris Johnson’s own popularity and sky-high ratings for his Government.

But all that has changed.

Anger is now mounting over ministers' shortcomings, including lack of preparedness, inadequate supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), the neglect of care homes, inconsistencies in the lockdown and delays in the expansion of the testing regime.

Much of this disillusion is unfair. Boris and his ministers are dealing with a historically unprecedented crisis, whose arrival was unforeseen and whose impact was never predicted.

The scale of the challenge been daunting, the responsibilities have been enormous. Every government across the world has been thrown into crisis by this deadly menace.

In some respects, the PM and his team have in fact performed heroically – take, for example the massive cash support programme for employers or the huge expansion of NHS intensive care capacity.

Much of this disillusion is unfair. Boris is dealing with a historically unprecedented crisis, whose impact was never predicted

And many of the Government's noisiest critics are either using the gift of hindsight or are just eager to score political points.

Nonetheless, according to one poll by Opinium Research at the weekend, 42 per cent of people disapprove of the Government’s handling of the crisis, compared to 39 per cent who approve.

That represents a nine point drop in confidence in just a week.

It is the first time that the balance of discontent has been against the Government since the outbreak began.

Towards the end of March, the picture was very different, with 65 per cent backing ministers and just 23 per cent against.

Economy's desperate slump

Ministers are now bracing themselves for the inevitable public inquiry once the emergency is over, when the cold spotlight of rigorous scrutiny will be shone on all their decisions.

But even before that inquiry is held, the Tory government faces a tsunami of troubles.

The economy is in a desperate slump, reflected in soaring unemployment and commercial meltdown.

One analysis by the Bank of England warned that in the second quarter this year, output could shrink by an incredible 25 per cent, the biggest depression for three centuries.

And in the Treasury’s most apocalyptic scenario, the fiscal deficit could reach £513billion, which may require spending cuts and tax rises worth £90billion to tackle.

Once seen as the party of enterprise and sound finance, the Conservatives could end up this year as the party of record debts, tax increases, business failures and expensive state intervention.

Tory civil war

Problems can be found for the Tories on every front. The Brexit talks with the EU over a trade deal are hopelessly bogged down.

Meanwhile, the return of the Immigration Bill – which aims to establish an Australian-style points-based system – to Parliament today just emphasises the scale of the Conservatives’ failure in this area.

Over the last decade of Tory rule, more than 600,000 arrivals have come to Britain every year, most of them from outside the EU and, contrary to fashionable propaganda, the latest ONS figures reveal barely a third of them seeking work.

The strain is showing badly in the Cabinet and the party.

There have been reports of bitter clashes between Johnson and his embattled Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

“That’s not fair. Give me a break,” Hancock is said to have told the Prime Minister after he was accused of running his department incompetently.

With the next election four years away, [Boris] may still have time to regain lost ground.

Other Cabinet ministers have complained about being kept in the dark by Downing Street over policy.

Among Conservative backbenchers, the atmosphere is increasingly hostile towards the leadership.

One WhatsApp group in the Commons, with 250 members, is said to have “sulphurous feelings” about the Cabinet.

Sir Keir's sniper

The acrimony is all the more dangerous because the Labour opposition has been transformed by the new leader Sir Keir Starmer.

With his sharp mind and natural authority, he is a far more formidable opponent for Johnson than the delusional Marxist Jeremy Corbyn ever was.

At the last two sessions of Prime Minister’s Questions, Sir Keir’s sniper’s rifle has proved a deadlier weapon that Boris’s blunderbuss.

One Downing Street aide privately admitted the Boris had been “clearly rattled” by their clash last Wednesday over care homes.

As the Prime Minister’s popularity declines, so Sir Keir’s rises.

The latest opinion poll gives Sir Keir a net approval rating of plus 24 points, compared to just plus 10 for the Prime Minister.

At the same time, the Tories’ lead over Labour is rapidly shrinking.

That is hardly a surprise, given how the calibre of Labour’s frontbench has improved so drastically under Sir Keir.

Rational and moderate, the new Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds, for instance, is in a different league to Diane Abbott.

Time for Tories to turn the tide

The Tories will have to up their game if they are to rebuild public confidence.

The sense of drift and panic has to end. A number of steps could be taken to achieve that.

One is to bolster the Cabinet by bringing in some heavyweights like Jeremy Hunt, the longest serving health secretary in British history.

It is absurd that a figure of his experience is out in the cold during this crisis.

Another is for Tory MPs to dig deep unify behind the Government.

This is a moment for solidarity and loyalty. In a crisis, there is nothing to be gained by sniping, grand-standing or egotistical self-advancement.

The Prime Minister also needs to sharpen up his act, perhaps by focusing his energies instead of grinding himself into the ground.

“He’s not feeling well. He hasn’t rested properly,” says a Cabinet source.

Now that the health crisis is passed its peak, the absolute priority for the Government has to be on the revival of the economy, especially by supporting a return to work and the regeneration of businesses.

It will be a hard task and there may not be any electoral reward even if the economy is fired up again.

After all, the lesson of modern British history is that governments are always blamed, however unfairly, for domestic crisis.

Harold Wilson was punished in 1970 for the devaluation of sterling, Ted Heath in 1974 for the three-day week.

Similarly, Jim Callaghan was thrown out in 1979 after the Winter of Discontent, John Major in 1997 after Black Wednesday, and Gordon Brown in 2010 after the Financial Crash.

Boris Johnson may suffer the same fate this time after the coronavirus crisis.

But with the next election four years away, he may still have time to regain lost ground.

Throughout his career, he has confounded his critics.

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Boris Johnson goes for first jog since coronavirus battle after he blamed illness on being overweight


BORIS Johnson was snapped this morning in a t-shirt and shorts after a run in central London.

The PM has been taking daily walks in St James' Park near Downing Street in the mornings, after recovering from his Covid-19 battle.

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But today he was seen not in his suit but wearing a white t-shirt and casual shorts, indicating he'd been for a jog instead.

He was said to have taken his exercise in private grounds in the city, rather than running around the open park.

The Prime Minister appeared to have his dog Dilyn by his side, too, as he was spotted clutching a dog lead.

It comes after the PM is reported to have blamed his struggle with the virus on his weight.

Boris is said to want to get the nation fit as part of the “recovery plan” to the coronavirus crisis.

The PM has decided to tackle the size of the nation's waistlines after his own weight is thought to have contributed to his severe coronavirus case which saw him treated in intensive care.

He wants to see the nations get fit by exercising – especially by bike, a personal passion of the PM.

It’s understood the PM was 17 and a half stone, when he was admitted to hospital after being struck down with Covid-19.

He’s since lost a stone, but his hospital visit has focused his attention, not only on his own weight, but that of the nation.

He told aides: “I’ve changed my mind on this. We need to be much more interventionist.”

The prime minister has been heard to remark, “It’s all right for you thinnies,” when discussing the disease inside No.10.

But he’s in favour of “getting Britain on its bike” rather than hiking the sugar tax on fizzy drinks, fast food and chocolate bars.

Last week, the PM’s spokesman said: “You’ve heard how much importance the PM attaches to cycling and how that can help people live healthier lives.”



Downing Street said they were “helping people where we can to lead healthier lives and do more exercise is both important now and in the future.”

The Downing Street spokesman added: “It is critical to understand how different factors such as ethnicity, deprivation, age, gender and obesity could be disproportionately impacting how people are affected by coronavirus.

“Public Health England launched a review into the factors affecting health outcomes from COVID-19, to include ethnicity, gender and obesity. This will be published by the end of May.

“As we outlined on our Recovery Strategy this Government will invest in preventive and personalised solutions to ill-health, empowering individuals to live healthier and more active lives.”


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Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds join millions of Brits in clap for our NHS heroes fighting coronavirus on frontline – The Sun

BORIS Johnson and Carrie Symonds have joined millions of Brits to clap the nation's NHS heroes and other key workers risking their lives on the coronavirus frontline.

The tradition is now in its eighth week but has seen no signs of slowing up as the applause at 8pm rang out across the country.

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Communities across the country have used the clapping to give a much need morale-boost to the workers and also to uplift the nation's spirit during these difficult times.

The first emotional Clap For Carers took place on Thursday, March 26, and has continued on a weekly basis since.

Touching pictures showed people across the country taking to their doorsteps to show their support.

Specially decorated postboxes bearing the words "Thank You NHS" have also popped up across the UK.

The postboxes were specially designed by Royal Mail as a way of thanking NHS workers for their efforts in the crisis.

Both Prime Minister Boris Johnson was seen stepping out of 10 Downing Street to pay tribute to the heroic medical staff.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has almost been appearing outside his London home to join the clap.

Tonight's event came as the country is beginning to ease out of lockdown, after Boris Johnson unveiled his 'roadmap' last Sunday.

The 50-page plan aims to get Britain back to school and work without risking a second wave of infections.

Under the new rules, the public is now allowed to go outside for leisure reasons, but they can't stay overnight for a holiday.

And Brits are allowed to meet one other person from a different household outdoors – following social distancing guidelines.

But the rules also differ slightly in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

New fines of up to £3,200 are also being introduced for those who repeatedly break social distancing rules.






Meanwhile, it was announced earlier that the first coronavirus antibody test that could help ease lockdown in the UK has been given the go-ahead by Public Health England.

No10 is now keen to get its hands on "as many of these as possible" after the potentially game-changing kit was developed by Swiss healthcare company Roche.

The test supports the detection of antibodies in patients who have been exposed to coronavirus and will therefore be immune from catching the bug again.

It will be instrumental in the UK lifting strict lockdown measures and allow people to return to work – as the government is grappling with how the UK economy is on course for a huge recession.

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Coronavirus fatalities in the UK rose to 33,614 earlier today after 428 more deaths were recorded the last 24 hours.

A total of 233,151 people have now tested positive for Covid-19 across Britain – up 3,446 cases from yesterday.

Today's death toll refers to those who have died in all settings – including care homes, hospices and the wider community.


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Boris Johnson sets out tentative 'exit plan' from coronavirus lockdown

Baby steps to freedom: Boris Johnson finally sets out tentative three-stage ‘exit plan’ from coronavirus lockdown with people urged to go back to work, unlimited exercise – and schools can return next month if it goes well

  • Boris Johnson is making an address to the nation laying out his ‘exit strategy’ from the coronavirus lockdown 
  • The premier tells Britons to ‘stay alert, control virus and save lives’ in new government coronavirus slogan
  • His ‘conditional’ plan could see schools start to open next month and parts of hospitality industry in July 
  • He will introduce a five-tier DefCon-style warning system to monitor the threat the virus poses in the UK 
  • Garden centres will be given the green light to reopen from Wednesday with ‘social distancing’ rules in place 
  • Once-a-day-rule on outdoor exercise is being ditched and bigger focus on going to work where possible  
  • There are concerns No 10’s order to ‘stay at home’ had been too effective and damaged the UK economy
  • PM has come under fire from politicians and union leaders for ‘mistake’ and ‘total joke’ new ‘stay alert’ mantra
  • It comes as Britain recorded 346 coronavirus deaths yesterday, taking the country’s death toll to 31,587 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Key points of Boris Johnson’s lockdown exit strategy

After almost two months of lockdown, Boris Johnson has set out what he called ‘the first sketch of a road map for reopening society’.

Here are the key points: 

  • From Monday, people who cannot work from home are being actively encouraged to go to work instead of being told to only go if they must. But they should avoid public transport if at all possible.
  • From Wednesday, people are being encouraged to take unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise and even play sports, but only with members of their household.
  • Visiting and sunbathing in local parks will also be allowed as will driving to other destinations.
  • But social distancing rules will still have to be obeyed with bigger fines for those who break them.
  • Primary schools may begin to reopen by June 1 at the earliest along with the phased reopening of shops.
  • But secondary schools are not expected to reopen before the summer holidays. 
  • Some pubs, restaurants, hotels and other public places could begin to reopen in July at the earliest ‘if and only if the numbers support it’.
  • A new Covid Alert System is being set up determined mainly by the reinfection rate and the number of cases.
  • The alert levels will be one to five and the higher the level, the tougher social distancing measures will have to be. 
  • The PM said the UK had been in Level Four but ‘we are now in a position to begin to move in steps to Level Three’.
  • Level one would mean coronavirus is no longer around while Level Five would be the NHS being overwhelmed by a fresh outbreak. 

Boris Johnson urged the country to go back to work tonight as he finally set out his tentative three-stage ‘exit plan’ from coronavirus lockdown – with schools potentially reopening from next month.

In a TV address to the nation from Downing Street as the UK’s united front threatens to crumble, the PM paid tribute to the ‘sacrifice’ of Britons in reining in the killer disease, and insisted the government’s top priority is to ensure those efforts are not ‘thrown away’.

But while he stressed the need for caution, Mr Johnson delivered a striking message about ‘colossal’ impact on our ‘way of life’ and the importance of getting the economy up and running, amid fears that the draconian restrictions are causing the worst recession in 300 years.

From tomorrow anyone who cannot work from home – even if they are not carrying out an essential function – is being ‘actively encouraged’ to return to their duties. Mr Johnson said they should try not to use public transport, and safety guidance had been developed for businesses, but in a clear signal he said: ‘Work from home if you can, but you should go to work if you can’t work from home.’  

Mr Johnson insisted the wider lockdown will remain in place, including ‘social distancing’ rules for people to be two metres apart where possible, and fines will even be increased – with details to be fleshed out to Parliament tomorrow. He said the critical R number is currently estimated at between 0.5 and 1, and the ‘brakes’ could be put on if the situation deteriorates in areas. 

However, he said sunbathing and unlimited outdoor exercise – even if it is not local to your home – will be permitted from Wednesday. Sports such as tennis and golf can happen, albeit only within your own household.

And his ‘road map’ makes clear that as long as the battle against the disease is succeeding, primary schools could start opening from the beginning of next month, with reception, Year 1 and Year 6 the first to go back.

‘Our ambition is that secondary pupils facing exams next year will get at least some time with their teachers before the holidays,’ Mr Johnson said. 

A DefCon-style system is being introduced to describe the country’s outbreak condition, with the UK currently being at the second most serious rating of four. 

More shops could reopen in June – and Mr Johnson even suggested that some parts of the hospitality industry could be making a comeback by July. 

The premier insisted that the steps were all ‘conditional’ on the outbreak remaining under control and there were ‘big Ifs’ about what can happen. ‘It depends on all of us – the entire country – to follow the advice, to observe social distancing, and to keep that R down,’ he said.

But the moves go much further than those in the rest of the UK, as the united stance looks to be crumbling. Nicola Sturgeon joined Wales and Northern Ireland in condemning Mr Johnson’s decision to ditch the powerful ‘stay at home’ mantra this afternoon. The First Minister said the new ‘stay alert’ version – which even has a green rather than a red border design – was ‘vague’ and raised the risk that ‘people will die unnecessarily’. None of the rest of the UK will be using the new slogan.

Wales has already flatly dismissed the idea of schools coming back next month, and Ms Sturgeon has suggested there is little prospect of the returning north of the border until August. 

In a TV address to the nation from Downing Street tonight, Boris Johnson paid tribute to the ‘sacrifice’ of Britons in reining in the killer disease, and insisted the government’s top priority is to ensure those efforts are not ‘thrown away’

Boris Johnson is scrambling to defend the decision to ditch the blanket ‘stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives’ slogan, amid furious opposition from Nicola Sturgeon

Boris Johnson reasserts himself as PM of the UK as he rebukes Nicola Sturgeon over lockdown criticism

Boris Johnson tonight reasserted his authority as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom as he set out a lockdown exit strategy and rebuked Nicola Sturgeon. 

The First Minister of Scotland had earlier launched a furious attack on Mr Johnson for dropping the ‘stay at home’ lockdown mantra as she insisted she will keep using it for Scotland.

She complained that she had not been informed the slogan was being replaced before it was briefed out to the media. 

Addressing a briefing in Edinburgh after attending Cobra, she said she had demanded that the Westminster government does not deploy the new guidance in Scotland.

But Mr Johnson tonight made clear in his address to the nation that he is making decisions for all four of the Home Nations. 

He said he wanted to provide the UK with ‘the first sketch of a road map for reopening society’ to give people a ‘sense of the way ahead’.

He then said: ‘I have consulted across the political spectrum, across all four nations of the UK, and though different parts of the country are experiencing the pandemic at different rates and though it is right to be flexible in our response I believe that as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom – Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, there is a strong resolve to defeat this together.

‘And today a general consensus on what we could do. And I stress could. Because although we have a plan, it is a conditional plan.’  

On another pivotal day in the all-consuming crisis: 

  • The UK has recorded a further 269 coronavirus deaths across all settings, taking the total to 31,855;
  • The new ‘stay alert’ guidance has been designed with green edging – a striking contrast to the red colour scheme for the ‘stay home’ version; 
  • Mr Johnson is expected to confirm that garden centres will be allowed to open from Wednesday and publish guidance for safer working in offices – but tougher fines of up to £3,000 for breaches of the rules;
  • Airports and travel companies reacted with fury to plans to impose two weeks’ quarantine on anyone arriving in the country, including UK citizens returning from holiday;
  • The UK death toll rose by 346 to 31,587, including more than 200 healthcare workers. Globally there have been almost 4million cases with more than 276,000 lives lost so far;
  • Ministers voiced suspicion that political opponents and union barons were colluding to block schools reopening until pay demands were met, in a group they described as ‘The Blob’;
  • A poll has found Britons believe the government has handled the crisis worse than other major countries apart from the US; 
  • Mr Jenrick revealed that 40 per cent of Isle of Wight residents, around 50,000 people, have downloaded the NHS coronavirus tracking app in the first week; 
  • Statistician Professor David Speigelhalter has branded the government’s use of figures ’embarrassing’, saying test numbers were being misrepresented and the public was not being treated with ‘respect’. 

In the crucial speech, Mr Johnson said: ‘It is thanks to your effort and sacrifice in stopping the spread of this disease that the death rate is coming down and hospital admissions are coming down. 

‘Thanks to you we have protected our NHS and saved many thousands of lives.’

Mr Johnson warned that ‘now is not the time’ to lift the lockdown entirely, saying: ‘We must stay alert. We must continue to control the virus and save lives.’

‘We must continue to control the virus and save lives,’ he said.

‘And yet we must also recognise that this campaign against the virus has come at colossal cost to our way of life.

‘We can see it all around us in the shuttered shops and abandoned businesses and darkened pubs and restaurants.

‘And there are millions of people who are both fearful of this terrible disease, and at the same time also fearful of what this long period of enforced inactivity will do to their livelihoods and their mental and physical wellbeing.

‘To their futures and the futures of their children. So I want to provide tonight – for you – the shape of a plan to address both fears.

‘Both to beat the virus and provide the first sketch of a road map for reopening society.

He went on: ‘From this Wednesday we want to encourage people to take more and even unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise.’

Schools could start to reopen from June 1, says Boris Johnson 

Boris Johnson has said schools will not start to reopen until June 1 ‘at the earliest’ as he outlined his plan to lift the coronavirus lockdown.

The PM said pupils in reception, Year 1 and Year 6 will be the first to go back from the start of the month during the staged process.

But Wales and Scotland have already dismissed the idea, with Nicola Sturgeon suggesting there is little prospect of them returning north of the border until August.

Mr Johnson told the nation: ‘In step two – at the earliest by June 1 – after half term – we believe we may be in a position to begin the phased reopening of shops and to get primary pupils back into schools, in stages, beginning with reception, Year 1 and Year 6.

‘Our ambition is that secondary pupils facing exams next year will get at least some time with their teachers before the holidays.

‘And we will shortly be setting out detailed guidance on how to make it work in schools and shops and on transport.’

‘You can sit in the sun in your local park, you can drive to other destinations, you can even play sports but only with members of your own household.’

He added: ‘You must obey the rules on social distancing and to enforce those rules we will increase the fines for the small minority who break them.’

Mr Johnson said guidance will be issued to show how workplaces can become ‘Covid Secure’, amid threats from unions that staff will simply refuse to go back if their health and safety is not protected.

‘The first step is a change of emphasis that we hope that people will act on this week,’ Mr Johnson said.

‘We said that you should work from home if you can, and only go to work if you must.

‘We now need to stress that anyone who can’t work from home, for instance those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work.

‘And we want it to be safe for you to get to work. So you should avoid public transport if at all possible – because we must and will maintain social distancing, and capacity will therefore be limited.

‘So work from home if you can, but you should go to work if you can’t work from home.’

Mr Johnson sought to play down the splits within the UK, after the backlash from Ms Sturgeon, and her Welsh and Northern Irish counterparts Mark Drakeford and Arlene Foster. 

‘I have consulted across the political spectrum, across all four nations of the UK,’ he said. ‘And though different parts of the country are experiencing the pandemic at different rates.

‘And though it is right to be flexible in our response, I believe that as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom – Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, there is a strong resolve to defeat this together.

He said at the Cobra meeting today there was a ‘general consensus on what we could do’.

‘And I stress could,’ he said. ‘Because although we have a plan, it is a conditional plan.’

Nicola Sturgeon’s backdrop delivered a less than subtle message at her briefing in Edinburgh after Cobra this afternoon. The Scottish First Minister said the new advice was ‘vague and imprecise, adding: ‘I don’t know what ”stay alert” means.’

Nicola Sturgeon tweeted this morning that she had still not been formally told the PM was changing the ‘stay at home’ mantra – and made clear she has no intention of doing so


The PM has dropped the ‘stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives’ slogan in favour of a ‘stay alert’ version – which notably has green edging instead of red

PM vows to ‘rapidly reverse’ care home outbreaks 

Boris Johnson tonight vowed to ‘reverse rapidly’ the coronavirus outbreaks raging in Britain’s care homes.

In his address to the nation this evening, the Prime Minister said there is ‘much more work to be done’ in tackling the ‘awful epidemics’ in both care homes and in the NHS.

The virus has devastated homes for the elderly, with experts warning cases are pushing up the UK’s average transmission rate and are providing one of the biggest barriers to lifting the lockdown.

The government has come under increasing pressure for its handling of the care home crisis, which has cost the lives of thousands of elderly residents.

In his speech tonight, the Prime Minister acknowledged the horrific impact of the virus on care homes and said: ‘We must reverse rapidly the awful epidemics in care homes and in the NHS, and though the numbers are coming down sharply now, there is plainly much more to be done.’

 Ahead of his address to the nation, Ms Sturgeon condemned ditching the mantra that has brought the country to an effective standstill since March 23.

The First Minister said she had not been informed about the change, and insisted the simple guidance would remain in force in Scotland whatever the PM says. Her Welsh and Northern Irish counterparts Mark Drakeford and Arlene Foster also indicated they will keep telling people to stay at home.  

Addressing a briefing in Edinburgh after attending Cobra this afternoon, Ms Sturgeon said the new catchphrase was ‘vague and imprecise, adding: ‘I don’t know what ”stay alert” means.’ 

She warned that ‘people will die unnecessarily’ if progress against the disease is ‘squandered’ by ‘easing up too soon or by sending mixed messages that result in people thinking it is OK to ease up now’.

One of the government’s own advisers, behavioural expert Professor Susan Michie, joined the criticism saying the shift risked ‘undermining the good work over the last few weeks’.

In the face of the anger, Mr Johnson posted a fuller version spelling out that people are still being urged to ‘stay at home where possible’ and ‘stay alert’ when they do go out.

Meanwhile, there was anger among some senior ministers that parts of Mr Johnson’s speech were pre-recorded, before the full Cabinet and Cobra considered the issues today. Government sources insisted other elements were filmed after the measures had been considered.  

Mr Johnson claimed the UK is testing ‘literally hundreds of thousands of people every day – despite the government failing to hit its daily target for eight days in a row.

In his speech to the nation, the Prime Minister said Britain had made ‘fast progress’ on testing, even though Number 10 has repeatedly been accused of being too slow to respond to the crisis.

Figures released today show fewer than 93,000 tests were carried out on May 9, meaning officials haven’t met their ambitious pledge of 100,000 a day since May 2.

But questions have been raised as to whether ministers ever met the target, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock accused of blatantly fiddling the figures to hit his much-vaunted goal by the end of April.

PM claims UK is ‘testing literally hundreds of thousands a day’ 

Boris Johnson claimed the UK is testing ‘literally hundreds of thousands of people every day – despite the government failing to hit its daily target for eight days in a row.

In his speech to the nation, the Prime Minister said Britain had made ‘fast progress’ on testing, even though Number 10 has repeatedly been accused of being too slow to respond to the crisis.

Figures released today show fewer than 93,000 tests were carried out on May 9, meaning officials haven’t met their ambitious pledge of 100,000 a day since May 2.

But questions have been raised as to whether ministers ever met the target, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock accused of blatantly fiddling the figures to hit his much-vaunted goal by the end of April.

It comes after it was revealed today that up to 50,000 coronavirus test samples had to be sent from the UK to the US after ‘operational issues’ in the laboratory network led to delays in the system.

It comes after it was revealed today that up to 50,000 coronavirus test samples had to be sent from the UK to the US after ‘operational issues’ in the laboratory network led to delays in the system.

Earlier, the premier tried to play down expectations for his statement, telling the Sun on Sunday that mountaineers know that coming down from the peak is ‘the most dangerous bit’, as it is easy to ‘run too fast, lose control and stumble’. 

The first steps towards easing the curbs strangling the economy are set to be very tentative, after ministers were told that 18,000 new infections are still being recorded every day – far above the target of 4,000 for a wide-scale loosening. Scientists have warned 100,000 Britons could die by the end of the year if he gets it wrong.

A DefCon-style five stage system will be introduced to describe the country’s outbreak condition, with the UK currently being at the second most serious rating of four – meaning most of the lockdown must be maintained. 

With evidence increasingly suggesting the virus spreads far less readily in the open air, the once-a-day limit on outdoor exercise will be dropped.

The focus will also shift to getting businesses up and running where possible, with detailed guidance for firms on how they should operate, and garden centres allowed to open from Wednesday where two-metre ‘social distancing’ rules can be put in place. Travellers and shoppers could be urged to wear face coverings, as has already happened in Scotland.

Breaches of the more nuanced rules could be enforced with harsher fines, amid complaints from police that the enforcement so far has been ‘wishy washy. Plans are being drawn up to use ‘peer pressure’ to get people to self-isolate, as those who test positive will be told to get in touch with anyone they might have infected. 

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told Sky News this morning that the announcements will be ‘cautious’ and there will be no ‘grand reopening’ of the economy, but the premier will lay out a plan that ‘encourages people to go to work’. He insisted ‘stay at home’ will still be an important part of the government’s approach – and suggested controls could be targeted at specific neighbourhoods in future.   

How the government’s DefCon style five stage alert system for the UK’s coronavirus outbreak could work

Travellers to UK face two weeks in self-isolation

From June, all arrivals in the UK – including returning Britons – will be quarantined for 14 days and face £1,000 fines or deportation if they fail to do so.

The announcement of the new travel measures comes seven weeks into the nation-wide coronavirus lockdown.

Government officials are working to avoid a second wave of the bug, which has killed more than 31,000 people in the UK alone.

The regulations mean Britons hoping for a week in the sun in the summer months will have to book three-weeks off work to ensure they can isolate on their return.

Key workers and travellers from Ireland will be exempt from the quarantine.  

Travellers will have to fill in a digital form giving the address of where they will be in quarantine. This will then be checked at airports, ports and Eurostar stations, although it is not clear which agency will provide staff to do this or on what database the forms will be stored on.

The scheme will be enforced by spot checks on the addresses but ministers have not said whether this will involve the police, Border Force or NHS.

Mr Johnson tried to play down expectations for the speech earlier, telling the Sun on Sunday the ‘descent’ from a mountain was always the riskiest bit.   

‘That’s when you’re liable to be overconfident and make mistakes,’ he said. 

‘You have very few options on the climb up — but it’s on the descent you have to make sure you don’t run too fast, lose control and stumble.’ 

He tweeted an image of the full advice this afternoon, saying: ‘Everyone has a role to play in helping to control the virus by staying alert and following the rules. This is how we can continue to save lives as we start to recover from coronavirus.’ 

The full guidance says: ‘We can help control the virus if we all Stay Alert: by staying at home as much as possible; by working from home if you can; by limiting contact with other people; by keeping distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible); by washing your hands regularly.’ 

But the updated slogan has already attracted a backlash for being much too soft to guard against a deadly and very contagious disease. 

Ms Sturgeon has previously warned that ditching the clear and simple advice will be ‘potentially catastrophic’. 

She tweeted this morning that she had still not been formally told the PM was changing the mantra. ‘It is of course for him to decide what’s most appropriate for England, but given the critical point we are at in tackling the virus, #StayHomeSaveLives remains my clear message to Scotland at this stage,’ she said. 

She added pointedly: ‘STAY HOME. PROTECT THE NHS. SAVE LIVES.’ 

At a briefing in Edinburgh this afternoon she complained that she did not really understand the new mantra in England.

Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster said the province will stick with the ‘stay home, save lives’ message. 

China’s Xi Jinping ‘personally asked WHO to hold back information about human-to-human transmission and delayed the global response by four to six WEEKS’ 

A bombshell report claims Chinese President Xi Jinping personally asked World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom to ‘delay a global warning’ about the threat of COVID-19 during a conversation back in January.  

Germany’s Der Spiegel published the allegations this weekend, citing intelligence from the country’s Federal Intelligence Service, known as the ‘Bundesnachrichtendienst’ (BND). 

According to the BND: ‘On January 21, China’s leader Xi Jinping asked WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to hold back information about a human-to-human transmission and to delay a pandemic warning. 

‘The BND estimates that China’s information policy lost four to six weeks to fight the virus worldwide’.

The WHO released a statement shortly after the publication of the shock claims, calling them ‘unfounded and untrue’.  

‘Dr Tedros and President Xi did not speak on January  21 and they have never spoken by phone. Such inaccurate reports distract and detract from WHO’s and the world’s efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic,’ the statement read. 

It continued: ‘China confirmed human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus on January 20 [prior to the alleged phone conversation].

‘The WHO publicly declared on January 22 that ‘data collected … suggests that human-to-human transmission is taking place in Wuhan.”

Speaking to BBC Northern Ireland radio on Sunday, she said: ‘On the whole, the message is to stay at home. We will say we are not deviating from the message at this time.’ 

Prof Michie said the new slogan was ‘a long way from’ being clear and consistent. ‘Dropping the ‘stay at home’ message from the main slogan in favour of generalised alertness may be taken as a green light by many to not stay at home and begin socialising with friends and other activities that increase the risk of transmission,’ the UCL scientist said. 

‘This could potentially undermine the good work over the last few weeks that has seen impressively sustained high levels of adherence by the public in what for many are very challenging situations.’ 

Union chiefs have also threatened that members will be told not return to work unless it is safe to do so, while many Labour figures have criticised the government for its change of policy.  

Mr Jenrick shrugged off criticism that the message is confusing, saying: ‘Stay alert will mean stay alert by staying home as much as possible.’ 

‘But stay alert when you do go out by maintaining social distancing, washing your hands, respecting others in the workplace and the other settings that you will go to,’ ,’ he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. 

Mr Jenrick told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday it was the right time to ‘update and broaden’ the message to the public. 

‘I think that’s what the public want and that they will be able to understand this message, which is that we should be staying home as much as possible but when we do go to work and go about our business we need to remain vigilant, we need to stay alert,’ he said. 

‘And that means things like respecting others, remaining two meters apart, washing your hands, following the social distancing guidelines because the virus continues to be prevalent, too many people are still dying of this and we’re going to have to live with it for a long time.’ 

Pressed if there is a danger the message is too woolly, Mr Jenrick said: ‘Well I hope not. ‘We need to have a broader message because we want to slowly and cautiously restart the economy and the country.’ 

Mr Jenrick went on: ‘We’re not going to take risks with the public. I understand people are anxious about the future but we want now to have a message which encourages people to go to work. 

‘Staying home will still be an important part of the message but you will be able to go to work and you will in time be able to do some other activities that you’re not able to do today.’  

Mr Jenrick said measures could be strengthened or relaxed locally to control the virus. 

Matt Hancock ‘told PM to ”give me a break” over criticism of response 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock urged Boris Johnson to  ‘give me a break’ in a furious bust-up over the coronavirus crisis.

Pressure intensified on Mr Hancock over his handling of the crisis last night after more than 25 million goggles were found to offer frontline NHS workers inadequate defence against the deadly virus.

The latest in a string of embarrassing Government failures over Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) came as senior sources suggested to The Mail on Sunday that Mr Hancock was now living ‘on borrowed time’ in the Cabinet.

One source claimed Boris Johnson had raised questions with Mr Hancock about his department’s grip on the crisis, only for the Minister to plead: ‘That’s not fair – give me a break.’

The 25.6 million pairs of Tiger Eye goggles bought for the NHS are not fit for purpose, according to the British Standards Institute: 15.9 million of them have already been distributed, with hospitals now being told to withdraw the remaining 9.7 million from use.

‘The evidence behind it will also be able to inform what we do at a local level and if we see there are outbreaks in particular localities, neighbourhoods, schools, towns, then we may be able to take particular measures in those places as we build up a more sophisticated and longer-term response to controlling the virus.’ 

There were signs early last week that the government was putting together major moves towards easing the lockdown. 

However, the ambitions have been scaled back, with Mr Johnson his most senior ministers – Dominic Raab, Michael Gove, Rishi Sunak and Matt Hancock – having thrashed out a limited strategy on Wednesday night, fearing that the country’s infection rate is still too high.  

The real figure is reported to be around 14,000 people a day, while the government’s target is said to be around 4,000, according to the Sunday Times.  

It has emerged the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) received warnings that there could be 100,00 deaths by the end of the year if measures are relaxed too far and too fast.  

A study by experts from the London School of Tropical Hygiene and College London modelled different approaches to ‘evaluate which were viable and which were not’ and reportedly concluded there was ‘very limited room for manoeuvre’. 

Policies such as allowing more than one household to mix in social ‘bubbles’, and reopening schools for more pupils have been put on hold. 

A No 10 source said that Mr Johnson, who is facing calls from Tory MPs to steer Britain clear of an economic recession, is ‘proceeding with maximum caution and maximum conditionality’ (pictured, people by Tower Bridge, London) 

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick shrugged off criticism that the new message is confusing, saying: ‘Stay alert will mean stay alert by staying home as much as possible.’

Ministers’ claims on testing and death toll are ’embarrassing’, says eminent statistician  

Prof David Spiegelhalter said the public was not being treated with ‘respect’ because the government was not laying out figures in a ‘trustworthy’ way

Ministers’ claims on coronavirus testing and the death toll are ’embarrassing’, an eminent statistician said today.  

Prof David Spiegelhalter said the public was not being treated with ‘respect’ because the government was not laying out figures in a ‘trustworthy’ way.

The expert has been cited by Boris Johnson and other senior figures for his doubts about making international comparisons of death rates – but recently told them to stop claiming his views in support, as broad trends can be identified between countries.  

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Prof Spiegelhalter said he watched the most recent daily Downing Street press briefing and ‘found it completely embarrassing’.

‘We got lots of big numbers, precise numbers of tests done… well that’s not how many were done yesterday, it includes tests that were posted out,’ he said on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

‘We are told 31,587 people have died – no they haven’t, it is far more than that.

‘So I think this is not trustworthy communication of statistics, and it is such a missed opportunity. There is a public out there who are broadly very supportive of the measures, they are hungry for details, for facts, for genuine information. And yet they get fed what I call number theatre, which seems to be coordinated much more by a No10 communications team rather than genuinely trying to inform people about what is going on.

‘I just wish that the data was being brought together and presented by people who really know its strengths and limitations and could treat the audience with some respect.’

‘The view is that the public will forgive us for mistakes made when going into the lockdown but they won’t forgive us for mistakes made coming out of it,’ an official told the Sunday Times.

Evidence of ‘coronaphobia’ among the public will have played a role in the decisions, with a poll for the Sun on Sunday showing 90 per cent of Britons oppose lifting restrictions this week. 

Even so, the tweaks being unveiled by Mr Johnson are set to provoke splits in the UK’s approach, with each nation having devolved powers.  

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford made clear his concerns about the ‘stay at home’ slogan being dropped this morning. He said he would be telling people in the principality that ‘if you are not out of your house for an essential purpose… staying at home remains the best way you can prtect yourself and others’. 

Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said she had ‘no idea’ what the new guidance meant. 

‘That is not a change that we would agree with. I think the First Minister was really clear last week that the ”stay at home” message was the right message and if I’m perfectly frank, I have no idea what ‘stay alert’ actually means,’ she told the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland. 

She added: ‘We’re asking the public to do a very great deal here and the least we can do is be consistent and clear in the message that we’re sending and stay at home is the right message.’ 

Professor Peter Horby, chair of the government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show the PM must be ‘incredibly cautious’.  

‘We have to be clear that this is not like a storm where we batten down the hatches and then it passes by and we walk out into the sunshine and it’s gone,’ he said.

‘It’s still out there. Most of us have not had this virus. So if we get this wrong it will very quickly increase across the population and we will be back in a situation of crisis.’So we have to be incredibly cautious about relaxing the measures.’

Mr Johnson will also announce a five-tier warning system, administered by a Joint Biosecurity Centre, to monitor the virus risk around the country and encourage public adherence to the new measures. 

The alerts will range from Level One (green) to Level Five (red), with Britain currently on Level Four.  

It will be administered by a Joint Biosecurity Centre, which will be responsible for detecting local spikes of Covid-19 so ministers can increase restrictions where necessary to help reduce the infection rates. 

Andy Burnham, the Labour Mayor of Greater Manchester, tweeted that it ‘feels to me like a mistake to me to drop the clear’ stay at home message. 

Dave Ward, general secretary of the Communication Workers Union, said: ‘The messaging from this Government throughout this crisis has been a total joke, but their new slogan takes it to a new level. Stay alert? It’s a deadly virus not a zebra crossing.’ 

However, there was praise for the new message from the Bruges Group think tank. It tweeted: ‘The Government’s new slogan is good. 

‘Green replaces red for a calmer feel. ‘Stay Alert’ replaces ‘Stay Home’ and underlines individual responsibility. ‘Control the Virus’ is a positive message. 

‘It’s within our power to achieve.’ 

An Opinium poll released today suggests the public thinks the UK’s response has been worse than other major countries – apart from the US

Boris Johnson’s speech in full: Prime Minister’s lockdown address to the nation 

Boris Johnson tonight unveiled a road map from lockdown in a pre-recorded address to the nation from Downing Street. Below is his full speech. 

It is now almost two months since the people of this country began to put up with restrictions on their freedom – your freedom – of a kind that we have never seen before in peace or war.

And you have shown the good sense to support those rules overwhelmingly.

You have put up with all the hardships of that programme of social distancing.

Because you understand that as things stand, and as the experience of every other country has shown, it’s the only way to defeat the coronavirus – the most vicious threat this country has faced in my lifetime.

And though the death toll has been tragic, and the suffering immense.

And though we grieve for all those we have lost.

It is a fact that by adopting those measures we prevented this country from being engulfed by what could have been a catastrophe in which the reasonable worst case scenario was half a million fatalities.

And it is thanks to your effort and sacrifice in stopping the spread of this disease that the death rate is coming down and hospital admissions are coming down.

And thanks to you we have protected our NHS and saved many thousands of lives.

And so I know – you know – that it would be madness now to throw away that achievement by allowing a second spike.

Boris Johnson addressed the nation from Downing Street to sketch out a road map from lockdown

We must stay alert.

We must continue to control the virus and save lives.

And yet we must also recognise that this campaign against the virus has come at colossal cost to our way of life.

We can see it all around us in the shuttered shops and abandoned businesses and darkened pubs and restaurants.

And there are millions of people who are both fearful of this terrible disease, and at the same time also fearful of what this long period of enforced inactivity will do to their livelihoods and their mental and physical wellbeing.

To their futures and the futures of their children.

So I want to provide tonight – for you – the shape of a plan to address both fears.

Both to beat the virus and provide the first sketch of a road map for reopening society.

A sense of the way ahead, and when and how and on what basis we will take the decisions to proceed.

I will be setting out more details in Parliament tomorrow and taking questions from the public in the evening.

I have consulted across the political spectrum, across all four nations of the UK.

And though different parts of the country are experiencing the pandemic at different rates.

And though it is right to be flexible in our response.

I believe that as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom – Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, there is a strong resolve to defeat this together.

And today a general consensus on what we could do.

And I stress could.

Because although we have a plan, it is a conditional plan.

And since our priority is to protect the public and save lives, we cannot move forward unless we satisfy the five tests.

We must protect our NHS.

We must see sustained falls in the death rate.

We must see sustained and considerable falls in the rate of infection.

We must sort out our challenges in getting enough PPE to the people who need it, and yes, it is a global problem but we must fix it.

And last, we must make sure that any measures we take do not force the reproduction rate of the disease – the R – back up over one, so that we have the kind of exponential growth we were facing a few weeks ago.

And to chart our progress and to avoid going back to square one, we are establishing a new Covid Alert System run by a new Joint Biosecurity Centre.

And that Covid Alert Level will be determined primarily by R and the number of coronavirus cases.

And in turn that Covid Alert Level will tell us how tough we have to be in our social distancing measures – the lower the level the fewer the measures.

The higher the level, the tougher and stricter we will have to be.

There will be five alert levels.

Level One means the disease is no longer present in the UK and Level Five is the most critical – the kind of situation we could have had if the NHS had been overwhelmed.

Over the period of the lockdown we have been in Level Four, and it is thanks to your sacrifice we are now in a position to begin to move in steps to Level Three.

And as we go everyone will have a role to play in keeping the R down.

By staying alert and following the rules.

And to keep pushing the number of infections down there are two more things we must do.

The Prime Minister pre-recorded the address which was broadcast at 7pm this evening 

We must reverse rapidly the awful epidemics in care homes and in the NHS, and though the numbers are coming down sharply now, there is plainly much more to be done.

And if we are to control this virus, then we must have a world-beating system for testing potential victims, and for tracing their contacts.

So that – all told – we are testing literally hundreds of thousands of people every day.

We have made fast progress on testing – but there is so much more to do now, and we can.

When this began, we hadn’t seen this disease before, and we didn’t fully understand its effects.

With every day we are getting more and more data.

We are shining the light of science on this invisible killer, and we will pick it up where it strikes.

Because our new system will be able in time to detect local flare-ups – in your area – as well as giving us a national picture.

And yet when I look at where we are tonight, we have the R below one, between 0.5 and 0.9 – but potentially only just below one.

And though we have made progress in satisfying at least some of the conditions I have given.

We have by no means fulfilled all of them.

And so no, this is not the time simply to end the lockdown this week.

Instead we are taking the first careful steps to modify our measures.

And the first step is a change of emphasis that we hope that people will act on this week.

We said that you should work from home if you can, and only go to work if you must.

We now need to stress that anyone who can’t work from home, for instance those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work.

And we want it to be safe for you to get to work. So you should avoid public transport if at all possible – because we must and will maintain social distancing, and capacity will therefore be limited.

So work from home if you can, but you should go to work if you can’t work from home.

And to ensure you are safe at work we have been working to establish new guidance for employers to make workplaces COVID-secure.

And when you do go to work, if possible do so by car or even better by walking or bicycle. But just as with workplaces, public transport operators will also be following COVID-secure standards.

And from this Wednesday, we want to encourage people to take more and even unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise.

You can sit in the sun in your local park, you can drive to other destinations, you can even play sports but only with members of your own household.

You must obey the rules on social distancing and to enforce those rules we will increase the fines for the small minority who break them.

And so every day, with ever increasing data, we will be monitoring the R and the number of new infections, and the progress we are making, and if we as a nation begin to fulfil the conditions I have set out, then in the next few weeks and months we may be able to go further.

In step two – at the earliest by June 1 – after half term – we believe we may be in a position to begin the phased reopening of shops and to get primary pupils back into schools, in stages, beginning with reception, Year 1 and Year 6.

Our ambition is that secondary pupils facing exams next year will get at least some time with their teachers before the holidays. And we will shortly be setting out detailed guidance on how to make it work in schools and shops and on transport.

And step three – at the earliest by July – and subject to all these conditions and further scientific advice; if and only if the numbers support it, we will hope to re-open at least some of the hospitality industry and other public places, provided they are safe and enforce social distancing.

Throughout this period of the next two months we will be driven not by mere hope or economic necessity.

We are going to be driven by the science, the data and public health.

And I must stress again that all of this is conditional, it all depends on a series of big Ifs.

It depends on all of us – the entire country – to follow the advice, to observe social distancing, and to keep that R down.

And to prevent re-infection from abroad, I am serving notice that it will soon be the time – with transmission significantly lower – to impose quarantine on people coming into this country by air.

And it is because of your efforts to get the R down and the number of infections down here, that this measure will now be effective.

And of course we will be monitoring our progress locally, regionally, and nationally and if there are outbreaks, if there are problems, we will not hesitate to put on the brakes.

We have been through the initial peak – but it is coming down the mountain that is often more dangerous.

We have a route, and we have a plan, and everyone in government has the all-consuming pressure and challenge to save lives, restore livelihoods and gradually restore the freedoms that we need.

But in the end this is a plan that everyone must make work.

And when I look at what you have done already.

The patience and common sense you have shown.

The fortitude of the elderly whose isolation we all want to end as fast as we can.

The incredible bravery and hard work of our NHS staff, our care workers.

The devotion and self-sacrifice of all those in every walk of life who are helping us to beat this disease.

Police, bus drivers, train drivers, pharmacists, supermarket workers, road hauliers, bin collectors, cleaners, security guards, postal workers, our teachers and a thousand more.

The scientists who are working round the clock to find a vaccine.

When I think of the millions of everyday acts of kindness and thoughtfulness that are being performed across this country.

And that have helped to get us through this first phase.

I know that we can use this plan to get us through the next.

And if we can’t do it by those dates, and if the alert level won’t allow it, we will simply wait and go on until we have got it right.

We will come back from this devilish illness.

We will come back to health, and robust health.

And though the UK will be changed by this experience, I believe we can be stronger and better than ever before.

More resilient, more innovative, more economically dynamic, but also more generous and more sharing.

But for now we must stay alert, control the virus and save lives.

Thank you very much.  

Police hit out at ‘wishy-washy’ government lockdown messages after sun-worshippers pack out parks and beaches on ‘hottest day of the year so far’

Police today lashed out at ‘wishy-washy’ enforcement of social distancing rules after sun-worshipping ‘covidiots’ packed out parks and beaches on the hottest day of the year so far. 

The Metropolitan Police Federation (MPF) complained the Government is sending out mixed messages after people basked in sunshine yesterday, when temperatures hit 26C (78.8F) on the south coast, making it hotter than Ibiza and St Tropez.

Chair Ken Marsh told BBC Radio 4 that authorities ‘needed to be firmer right from the beginning’.

He said: ‘It’s been quite wishy-washy how we’ve gone about it.

‘Had we been very stringent from the off – it is painful, but it’s not overly painful in terms of what you’re actually being asked to do – then I think we would have a better result now.’ 

Hackney police says it is ‘fighting a losing battle’ as hundreds of people flock to London parks, including London Fields (pictured), to eat pizza, drink wine and eat ice cream on Saturday

Hundreds flocked to London Fields where Hackney police said they were powerless to stop those out enjoying the sun from drinking and eating pizza. 

In scenes replicated around the country, the Coastguard said that on Friday it had the highest number of call-outs since lockdown began, with 97 incidents, 54 per cent more than the average of 63 for the month. 

Traffic police in Brighton were stopping cars at the end of the A23 which leads to the south coast seaside mecca and officers have fined visitors trying to visit for the bank holiday.  

Hackney Police tweeted a picture of London Fields adding: ‘Sadly we’re fighting a losing battle in the parks today. Literally hundreds of people sitting having pizza, beers, wines. 

‘As always a big thank you to those that are observing the guidelines.’

Health officials have said they fear Britons are starting to get complacent about the Covid-19 lockdown after traffic and mobile phone data revealed more people are on the roads and looking for directions.

Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director of NHS England, said on Saturday that ‘there was a little bit of concern’ after the unseasonably warm weather drew big crowds to public spaces.

A police checkpoint turns away cars trying to get into Brighton as bored families break coronavirus lockdown rules

Covidiots flock to Burgess Park in South London, ignoring social distancing advice and packing out pathways and benches

Families with young children queue for ice cream near Greenwich Park in London on Saturday as the ice cream seller dons a face mask despite customers lining up shoulder-to-shoulder

Police officers on patrol in a South London park are exasperated as they ask sunbathers and people enjoying picnics to leave

An ice cream seller takes orders from behind a plastic screen while wearing a face mask as crowds line up behind customers

Police had to clear beaches at Southend-on-Sea, Essex, after sun-seekers flocked to the coast to enjoy the warm water

A man is stopped by police officers on the beach in Essex after ignoring the government’s guidelines to stay at home

Lockdown flouters are removed from the beach in Southend-on-Sea after ignoring the government’s advice to stay indoors

Hundreds of people flocked to the Essex seaside town in groups clearly flouting the government’s lockdown guidance

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Was Boris and Carrie’s baby delivered at St Thomas’ Hospital days after it saved his life from coronavirus?


BORIS and Carrie’s baby may have been delivered at St Thomas’ Hospital just days after it saved the PM from coronavirus.

The Prime Minister today become a dad for the sixth time after the pair announced the birth of a "healthy baby boy".

⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates

It comes just 16 days after Boris fought for his life in intensive care with coronavirus – and after Carrie's own fight with the deadly bug.

Mr Johnson recovered at St Thomas Hospital on Westminster Bridge Road, just half a mile away from 10 Downing Street.

The hospital is one of the most famous – and oldest – in London, having a history dating back to the 12th Century, while it has been in its current place by Lambeth Palace since 1871.

It is one of the closest hospitals to the PM's home, meaning he could have had his life saved and welcomed another to his family in just weeks.

The other option would be University College Hospital, which is 1.7 miles from Downing Street.

No 10 previously said the baby was due in early summer, with further reports suggesting the end of May or beginning of June, meaning the couple conceived shortly after moving into Downing Street.

How many children does Boris Johnson have and what are their names?

1) Lara Lettice

The 27-year-old is the eldest of Boris Johnson's brood and was conceived ahead of her parents' wedding.

The MP married barrister Marina Wheeler in 1993 when she was pregnant with their daughter.

Lara, who styles herself with the double barrelled surname Johnson-Wheeler, is a writer, editor and broadcaster.

2) Milo Johnson

The 25-year-old is the second eldest of the Johnson clan and is the oldest of his boys.

He was educated at the £27,174 a year Westminster School where he was said to excel at sports.

In a 2011 issue of his school magazine he was called a "delight to watch" and was "without doubt the player of the season" for his football skills.

3) Cassie Johnson

The 22-year-old is the third of Johnson's children with Marina. She studied at the £18,000 per year Highgate School in North London.

Like her father she is a writer and during her time at the private school she was a student editor of their alumni magazine Cholmeleian.

She did not speak publicly about her parents' divorce, unlike her sister Lara who branded Boris a "b*****d".

4) Stephanie

His kids have a younger half-sister, Stephanie, who was born in 2009 – the product of an affair with art advisory Helen Macintyre.

Stephanie is the second youngest of Johnson's children. At first, he denied paternity and wasn't named on the birth certificate.

However, his relations were revealed after a 2013 court battle in which he sought an injunction to prevent her existence being reported.

5) Theodore Johnson

The 20-year-old is the youngest of Johnson's children with ex-wife Marina.

It is not known which school he attended but it is believed to be one in London as he was pictured outside their Islington home in a school uniform in 2016.

He went on to attend Cambridge University – whereas his dad went to their rival Oxford.

6) Baby boy

Boris' fiancee Carrie Symonds has given birth to a baby boy today.

Both mum, 32, and baby are "doing very well" after the birth in a London hospital earlier this morning.

The couple have not released the name of their son.

A spokesman said this morning: "The Prime Minister and Ms Symonds are thrilled to announce the birth of a healthy baby boy at a London hospital earlier this morning. Both mother and baby are doing very well.

"The PM and Ms Symonds would like to thank the fantastic NHS maternity team."

What we know so far:

  • Boris was present at the birth of his sixth child, and third son
  • Baby comes after Boris' life-and-death coronavirus battle and after Carrie fought off bug
  • Boris will not take part in PMQs today with Dominic Raab to take his place
  • Labour's Sir Keir Starmer and ex-PM David Cameron led congratulations
  • Bookies suggest couple could call son Alexander after one of PM’s middle names

While the new arrival is Ms Symond's first child, it is believed to be Mr Johnson's sixth – and is his third son.

He has four children with ex wife Marina Wheeler – two sons Milo, 24, and Theodore, 20, and two daughters Lara, 26, and Cassia, 22.

Boris also has another daughter, Stephanie, born in 2009, after an affair with art consultant Helen Macintyre.

Carrie, who was also self-isolating for a week with the virus, was not allowed to visit Boris in hospital, but is said to have shared scans of the baby with him at the time to lift his spirits.

It's thought Boris will take his paternity leave later in the year, so he can still keep a firm grip on the country's coronavirus crisis.

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Will Boris Johnson take paternity leave amid coronavirus crisis?

Will Boris Johnson take paternity leave amid coronavirus crisis? PM’s efforts to get a grip on government response could be interrupted after he previously said he would take time off

  • Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds were ‘thrilled’ to announce birth this morning
  • PM previously said he would ‘almost certainly’ take paternity leave after arrival 
  • Mr Johnson has only just returned to work after recovering from coronavirus 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Boris Johnson’s efforts to get a grip on the coronavirus crisis might be interrupted by paternity leave, it emerged today.

The PM previously said he would ‘almost certainly’ take time off when fiancee Carrie Symonds gave birth.

Downing Street was today staying tight-lipped over whether Mr Johnson still intends to go on leave, with the country in the throes of the deadly disease outbreak.

There were concerns over a power vacuum when Mr Johnson was hospitalised, and then spent two weeks recuperating at Chequers. 

He only returned to Downing Street on Monday, making a speech on the steps of No10 and taking charge of the daily ‘War Cabinet’ meetings.

In his absence there were signs of splits among senior ministers over how and when to ease the lockdown inflicting massive damage on the economy.

Downing Street was today staying tight-lipped over whether Boris Johnson (pictured with Carrie last month) still intends to go on paternity leave, with the country in the throes of the deadly disease outbreak

As an office-holder rather than an employee, the PM is not officially covered by the parental leave rules.

However, many politicians have opted to follow the provision available for other workers.  

Parents can take one or two weeks after their partner has a baby. 

It must be taken all in one go.

Alternatively parents can share up to 50 weeks of leave, and up to 37 weeks of pay, between them. 

‘Hawks’ such as Chancellor Rishi Sunak were believed to have been pushing for an earlier easing to avoid huge job losses, while ‘doves’ including Health Secretary Matt Hancock advocated a more cautious approach. 

First Secretary Dominic Raab ‘deputised’ for Mr Johnson while he was off, but he was said to have acted as a facilitator of debate in Cabinet rather than forcing decisions. 

Mr Johnson and Ms Symonds made history as the first unmarried couple to officially live together in Downing Street when they moved in last year. 

Rumours had been swirling all morning about Mr Johnson’s absence from PMQs.

Downing Street had refused to say whether the premier would be in the Commons for the regular session, which would have been his first since recovering from illness.

It was not clear whether he was still not up to an hour of intensive grilling from MPs, but Ms Symonds’ pregnancy was also the source of speculation. 

First Secretary Dominic Raab ‘deputised’ for Mr Johnson while he was off, but he was said to have acted as a facilitator of debate in Cabinet rather than forcing decisions


There have been claims of Cabinet splits between ‘hawks’ such as Chancellor Rishi Sunak (pictured left in No10 yesterday) pushing for an earlier easing of lockdown, and ‘doves’ including Health Secretary Matt Hancock (pictured right in Downing Street today) advocating a more cautious approach

Mr Raab will stand in for Mr Johnson today while he spends time with the new baby.  

Mr Johnson has previously said he would take paternity leave, although it is not clear whether he will stick to that as the country is in the grips of coronavirus turmoil.

It is understood the PM was by his 32-year-old fiancee’s side throughout the birth, which took place at an NHS hospital in London. 

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who would have been up against the PM for the first time this afternoon, tweeted: ‘Wonderful news. Many congratulations to Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds.’ 

The PM and Ms Symonds both suffered from coronavirus, and have spent some time recuperating at Chequers. 

There were concerns about Ms Symonds as doctors were not sure if pregnancies might be at risk from the virus, but she is understood to have made a good recovery.    

The happy news comes as something of a surprise, with Ms Symonds having been expected to give birth in the summer, although a due date was never confirmed by the couple. 

A spokesman for the couple said today they were ‘thrilled’ to announce the birth which took place early this morning, adding: ‘Both mother and baby are doing very well.’ 

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Six Tory donors urge Boris Johnson to ease coronavirus lockdown

Tory grandees urge Boris Johnson to ease coronavirus lockdown: Six donors including Phones4U founder John Caudwell and three cabinet ministers join calls for action

  • PM will return to work on Monday to find restlessness brewing in the Tory ranks 
  • Six wealthy backers have demanded government fire back up the economy
  • Three cabinet ministers also broke ranks to undermine the lockdown strategy 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Boris Johnson is facing mounting calls to ease the lockdown from multiple flanks of his own party including donors, cabinet ministers and rebellious MPs.

The Prime Minister will return to work in Downing Street on Monday to find restlessness brewing in the Tory ranks for restrictions to be relaxed. 

Wealthy backers who have poured millions into Conservative campaign war chests have demanded the government acts to fire back up the spluttering economy.

The six businessmen, who include billionaires Peter Hargreaves and Michael Spencer, warned the lockdown risks wreaking long-term damage. 

Phones4u founder John Caudwell, who donated £500,000 to the Conservatives, told the Sunday Times he favoured ‘cautiously reopening the economy’.

Steve Morgan, the former boss of the housebuilder Redrow, told the paper: ‘We’re actually in danger that the medicine – if you want to call the lockdown that – is more harmful than the cure.

‘I’m strongly in favour of getting the country back to work. This is not about profit; this is about -saving the country from going bankrupt, from mass unemployment, from businesses going bust, people losing their livelihoods and homes.’

Millionaire banker Sir Henry Angest and restaurateur Richard Caring also lined up to impress the need for a loosening of restrictions.  

Boris Johnson is facing mounting calls to ease the lockdown from multiple flanks of the Conservative Party, including donors, cabinet ministers and rebellious MPs

Phones4u founder John Caudwell, who donated £500,000 to the Conservatives, said he favoured ‘cautiously reopening the economy’

 

During Mr Johnson’s recovery, the cabinet successfully displayed a united front and rallied around the government’s central message for the public to stay at home.

Ministers have consistently shrugged off calls to publish an exit strategy, despite signs Britons are growing agitated and flouting social distancing rules. 

But last night three of the PM’s top team broke ranks to anonymously undermine the strategy.

One of the trio of cabinet ministers told the Sunday Times: ‘I don’t know anyone in the cabinet who doesn’t want the lockdown eased as soon as possible.

‘If the public are beginning to give up on it, then nobody wants to see it enforced through compulsion rather than consent.’

Private disagreements have been seeping out of cabinet, which is reportedly split between ‘hawks’ wanting to ease the lockdown and ‘doves’ who want to keep the current curbs.

Hawkish members include Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who has had to dig deep into the Treasury coffers to fund billions in bailouts and is confronted with bleak forecasts.

Last night three of the PM’s cabinet broke ranks to anonymously undermine the strategy. Pictured: Boris Johnson holding his first Cabinet meeting following last year’s General Election

Doves are understood to include Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who is one of the senior figures steering the response to the crisis.

Mr Johnson, who will take the reins back from Dominic Raab on Monday, has reportedly become more reluctant to ease the lockdown since his own battle with the virus in intensive care.

Yet he is facing a revolt on his own backbenches, with several Tory party big beasts publicly voicing their concerns.

Former Brexit secretary David Davis this weekend wrote: ‘If we do not get a plan in place soon, it will have a devastating impact on businesses, jobs and lives.

‘This should jolt the Government into rapidly navigating the UK’s route out of lockdown.’

Former business secretary Andrew Leadsom also urged the government to give businesses the confidence to re-open.

The clamour to publish a blueprint out of lockdown is also being echoed by a re-energised Labour Party with Sir Keir Starmer at the helm.

Ministers have consistently shrugged off calls to publish an exit strategy, despite signs Britons are growing agitated and flouting social distancing rules (London revellers pictured) 

Former business secretary Andrew Leadsom also urged the government to give businesses the confidence to re-open

Sir Keir has repeatedly called for the government to spell out a road map forward.  

Yet leading scientists have poured cold water on hopes the lockdown could be relaxed, warning the rate of new infections is still too high.  

Tacking to a containment strategy based on rigorous testing and contact tracing is widely touted as the route to easing restrictions.

But the UK’s track-and-trace infrastructure would cripple under the load of daily cases at their current levels, experts have said.

They have lined up behind Professor John Edmunds, who sits on the government’s scientific advisory group, Sage, to not jump the gun on lifting the social distancing.

The warnings came as Britain passed the grim 20,000-death milestone in the coronavirus outbreak.

A further 813 recorded fatalities took the total toll to 20,319, while cases also rose by 4,913 to 148,377. 

Downing Street last night declined to comment. 

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Where is Boris Johnson and will he be hosting the coronavirus press briefing? – The Sun

PRIME Minister Boris Johnson was leading daily briefings to update the country on the Government's actions. 

But on Friday, March 27, Boris confirmed that he had tested positive for the virus and his situation deteriorated in early April. Here's everything we know about what happens next.

⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates

Where is Boris Johnson?

Boris is currently recuperating at the Chequers estate in Buckinghamshire, where he is taking part in daily cabinet meetings according to Downing Street.

Mr Johnson is still not working but he is getting daily updates from his team.

Enjoying frequent phone calls with his stand-in Dominic Raab, the PM is expected back at work within a fortnight.

After testing positive for the coronavirus he spent a week in hospital from April 5.

His twitter feed has been dead since then and there has been little official word on his recovery.

The Prime Minister posted a video to social media on March 27 saying he is now working from home, at 11 Downing Street.

A Conservative MP told The Times that fighting for his life in intensive care had changed the Prime Minister.

They said: “The Prime Minister is in a funny place, I think he's quite frightened."

“His illness and the warning from the doctors has really hit him hard.

Downing Street aides have stressed Boris must recover fully from coronavirus before stand-in Dominic Raab hands over.

Will he be hosting the Government's daily coronavirus briefing?

Johnson is still quarantined at Chequers at the moment and is still too ill to work.

There is hope and speculation that he will be back this week, but that remains to be confirmed.

The PM originally said he would "continue to lead the Government’s response", though hasn't been at the daily press briefings since he was diagnosed.

Cabinet ministers have since been taking on the chair role along with top medical advisors and are handling the briefings quite well.

Johnson has been seen standing outside No10 for the Clap for Carers.

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How will Boris run the government's coronavirus response now?

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab is standing in as deputy PM as Boris is still too ill to carry out his duties.

Boris is officially recovering on doctors' orders but he is still sitting in on cabinet meetings via video link and having regular chats with Raab.

Michael Gove is chairing a daily meeting with Dominic Raab, Matt Hancock and Rishi Sunak – dubbed “the quad” – to discuss key decisions.

Mr Gove insisted the Prime Minister is still calling the shots.

He recently told Sky's Sophy Ridge: "The Prime Minister is recovering well. He's in cheerful spirits. And he had the opportunity to talk to Dominic Raab, his deputy, the First Secretary of State, on Friday.”

The hope is that he will be fully back in early May or sooner.

Photos showed him hosting Cabinet meetings via video conference calls.

Where does Boris normally hold the press conferences?

The Prime Minister usually conducts the conference from a briefing room in Downing Street.

Viewers have seen Johnson and other cabinet officials in the same room taking questions from journalists shown on a television screen.

They are often joined by England's Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jenny Harries, and Sir Patrick Vallance, the Chief Scientific Adviser.

The approach was adopted to maintain social distancing.

The briefings typically take place between 4pm and 6pm UK time.

They are available to watch live on BBC News or streamed online later.

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But while they are helping save lives, who is there to help them?

The Sun has launched an appeal to raise £1MILLION for NHS workers.

The Who Cares Wins Appeal aims to get vital support to staff in their hour of need.

We have teamed up with NHS Charities Together in their urgent Covid-19 Appeal to ensure the money gets to exactly who needs it.

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No matter how little you can spare, please donate today here

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Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds are 'birdwatching at Chequers'

Boris Johnson is banned from riding his motorbike but ‘is enjoying a spot of birdwatching’ as he recovers from coronavirus: PM and pregnant fiancee Carrie Symonds ‘are spotting red kites and woodpeckers in Chequers garden’

  • Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds are birdwatching at Chequers, a source says 
  • The Prime Minister has been banned from riding his motorcycle by doctors 
  • He is recovering from coronavirus with pregnant Ms Symonds at the estate
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds have ‘turned to birdwatching’ at Chequers as the Prime Minister has been banned from riding his beloved motorcycle while he recovers from coronavirus.  

Mr Johnson and his pregnant fiancee Ms Symonds, who is a vocal nature lover and environmentalist, are spotting red kites, buzzards and woodpeckers along with more usual garden birds in the Buckinghamshire estate, a source close to the couple has said. 

The PM had been given a second-hand Yamaha TT-R125 as a Christmas present from Ms Symonds, but doctors have banned Mr Johnson from riding the motorcycle on the estate as he recuperates following his diagnosis, it was said. 

It comes after Ms Symonds, 32, spoke of her agony while Mr Johnson battled coronavirus in intensive care.

Doctors have banned Mr Johnson from riding his beloved motorcycle on the estate as he recuperates following his diagnosis

Ms Symonds said she would ‘never stop thanking’ the NHS after he was discharged from St Thomas’s Hospital in central London over the Easter weekend.

After he was admitted, the PM spent three nights in intensive care with oxygen treatment before he was moved back to a general ward.

Ms Symonds – who has been self-isolating in Chequers with the couple’s dog Dilyn – has previously slammed those who wear fur as ‘sick’, called businesses which sell their products ‘nuts’, and has demonstrated against whaling and the badger cull. 

The PM’s fiancee tweeted her praise for staff at St Thomas’s as Mr Johnson recovered from the virus. 

Ms Symonds, 32, spoke of her agony while Mr Johnson battled coronavirus in intensive care

She wrote: ‘There were times last week that were very dark indeed.

‘My heart goes out to all those in similar situations, worried sick about their loved ones.

‘I cannot thank our magnificent NHS enough. The staff at St Thomas’ Hospital have been incredible. I will never, ever be able to repay you and I will never stop thanking you.’

Ms Symonds herself announced that she has coronavirus after Mr Johnson went into isolation.

Earlier this month she revealed how she ‘spent the past week in bed with the main symptoms of Coronavirus’ but had since recovered, adding: ‘Being pregnant with Covid-19 is obviously worrying.

‘To other pregnant women, please do read and follow the most up to date guidance which I found to be v reassuring.’

Mr Johnson, 55, is resting at Chequers in Buckinghamshire to rest, with a spokesman saying that ‘on the advice of his medical team, the PM will not be immediately returning to work’. 

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