Mar 21, 2020
Boris Johnson UK Coronavirus Update Transcript: UK Shuts Down Pubs, Restaurants
Boris Johnson gave another press briefing on March 21 for COVID-19 in the UK. He announced the closure of all pubs and restaurants. Full transcript right here.
Boris Johnson: (00:00)
Today I am joined by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, and Jenny Harries, Deputy Chief Medical Officer. Yesterday I set out the ambition of this government to turn the tide against coronavirus within three months. And I want to repeat that determination today.
Boris Johnson: (00:17)
We’re going to do it with testing. We’re going to do it with new medicines, and new digital technology that will help us to see the disease as it is transmitted, and thereby, by eliminating it, to stamp it out. And above all, now we’re going to defeat this disease with a huge national effort to slow the spread by reducing unnecessary social contact.
Boris Johnson: (00:43)
And I want to thank everybody for following the guidance we issued on Monday: To stay at home for seven days if you think you have the symptoms, for 14 days if anyone in your household has either of the symptoms; a new continuous cough or a high temperature. To avoid pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants. To work from home, if at all possible. Keep washing your hands. And I know it’s been tough. And I know it has been inconvenient. But these actions that we’re all taking together are helping to take the strain off our NHS.
Boris Johnson: (01:20)
And bit by bit, day by day, by your actions, your restraint and your sacrifice, we are putting this country in a better and stronger position, where we will be able to save literally thousands of lives, of people of all ages, people who don’t deserve to die now. People whose lives can, must, and will be saved.
Boris Johnson: (01:48)
And as we take these actions together and as we make these sacrifices, we can see the impact on the real economy. Already, fantastic British companies, already under huge strain, big and small. Workers who are finding that their jobs are under threat or going, through new fault of their own. And to all of them, we in government say: We will stand by you. And I say that to companies, remember our joint objective: to beat this virus. And we will do everything in our power to help.
Boris Johnson: (02:25)
And in just a minute, Rishi is going to explain how we’re going to help workers of all kinds to get through this crisis, supporting you directly in a way that government has never done before, in addition to the package that we’ve already set out for business.
Boris Johnson: (02:46)
And of course these measures are intended, these steps that we’re taking are intended, to be temporary. And of course I am confident that, in time, the UK economy is going to bounce back. Of course it is. But I must be absolutely clear with you: The speed of our eventual recovery depends entirely on our ability, our collective ability, to get on top of the virus now. And that means we have to take the next steps, on scientific advice and following our plan, we are strengthening the measures announced on Monday, which you will remember.
Boris Johnson: (03:27)
And already, people have made a huge effort to comply with those measures for avoiding unnecessary social contact. But we need now to push down further on that curve of transmission between us.
Boris Johnson: (03:41)
And so following agreement between all the formations of the United Kingdom, all the devolved administrations, we are collectively telling, telling cafés, pubs, bars, and restaurants to close tonight as soon as they reasonably can, and not to open tomorrow. Though to be clear, they can continue to provide takeout services. We’re also telling nightclubs, theaters, cinemas, gyms and leisure centers to close on the same timescale.
Boris Johnson: (04:23)
Now, these are places where people come together, and indeed the whole purpose, in many cases, of these businesses is to bring people together. But the sad thing is, I’m afraid, today for now, at least physically, we need to keep people apart.
Boris Johnson: (04:43)
And I want to stress that we will review the situation each month, to see if we can relax any of these measures. And listening to what I have just said, some people may of course be tempted to go out tonight. And I say to you, please don’t. You may think that you’re invincible, but there is no guarantee that you will get mild symptoms, and you can still be a carrier of the disease and pass it on to others. So that’s why, as far as possible, we want you to stay at home. That’s how we can protect our NHS and save lives.
Boris Johnson: (05:27)
To repeat, I know how difficult this is, and how it seems to go against the freedom-loving instincts of the British people. And I also know how much, right now, workers and business deserve the financial reassurance that we are giving them. But we will get through this. We will get through it together, and we will beat this virus.
Boris Johnson: (05:55)
And to ram that point home: The more effectively we follow the advice that we are given, the faster this country will stage both a medical and an economic recovery in full.
Boris Johnson: (06:11)
Thank you all very much. I’m going to pass now to Rishi, who’s going to explain the financial support for workers.
Rishi Sunak: (06:19)
Thank you, Prime Minister. Good afternoon. The economic intervention that I’m announcing today is unprecedented in the history of the British state. Combined with our previous announcements on public services and business support, our planned economic response will be one of the most comprehensive in the world.
Rishi Sunak: (06:39)
Let me speak directly to people’s concerns: I know that people are worried about losing their jobs, about not being able to pay the rent or mortgage. About not having enough set by for food and bills. I know that some people in the last few days have already lost their jobs. To all those at home right now, anxious about the days ahead, I say this: You will not face this alone. But getting through this will require a collective national effort, with a role for everyone to play. People, businesses, government. It’s on all of us to meet our commitment to that effort.
Rishi Sunak: (07:25)
I am today announcing a combination of measures unprecedented for a government of this nation. Our plan for people’s jobs and incomes will protect people’s jobs, offer more generous support to those who are without employment, strengthen the safety net for those who work for themselves, and help people stay in their homes.
Rishi Sunak: (07:49)
The first part of our plan is to protect people’s jobs. This week, the government has taken unprecedented steps to fight the coronavirus. We have closed schools. We have told people to stay at home to prevent the spread of infection. We are now closing shops, restaurants, bars. Those steps are necessary to save lives, but we don’t do this lightly. We know these measures will have a significant economic impact. I have a responsibility to make sure that we protect, as far as possible, people’s jobs and incomes.
Rishi Sunak: (08:28)
Today, I can announce that for the first time in our history, the government is going to step in and help to pay people’s wages. We’re setting up a new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Any employer in the country, small or large, charitable or nonprofit, will be eligible for this scheme.
Rishi Sunak: (08:51)
Employers will be able to contact HMRC for a grant to cover most of the wages of people who are not working, but are furloughed and kept on payroll, rather than being laid off. Government grants will cover 80% of the salary of retained workers, up to a total of £2,500 a month. That’s just above the median income. And of course, employers can top up salaries further if they choose to. That means workers in any part of the UK can retain their job, even if their employer can not afford to pay them, and be paid at least 80% of their salary.
Rishi Sunak: (09:34)
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will cover the cost of wages backdated to March 1st and will be open initially for at least three months, and I will extend the scheme for longer if necessary. I am placing no limit on the amount of funding available for the scheme. We will pay grants to support as many jobs as necessary.
Rishi Sunak: (10:00)
And can I put on record my thanks to the Trades Union Congress, the CBI, and other business groups for our constructive conversations? We said we would stand together with the British people, and we meant it. We have never had a scheme in our country like this before. And we’re having to build our systems from scratch.
Rishi Sunak: (10:22)
I can assure you that HMRC are working night and day to get the scheme up and running. And we expect the first grants to be paid within weeks, and we’re aiming to get it done before the end of April. But I know that many businesses are hurting now. I’ve already taken extraordinary measures to make cash available to businesses through loans, grants and guarantees.
Rishi Sunak: (10:47)
I can announce today that the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will not be interest free, as previously planned, for six months. It will now be interest free for 12 months. And thanks to the enormous efforts of our critical financial services sector, those loans will now be available starting on Monday. And I will announce further measures next week, on top of those the Governor and I have already taken to ensure that larger and medium sized businesses can also access the credit they need.
Rishi Sunak: (11:20)
I’m also announcing today further cash flow support through the cash tax system. To help businesses pay people and keep them in work, I’m deferring the next quarter of VAT payments. That means no business will pay any VAT from now until the end of June; and you will have until the end of the financial year to repay those bills. That is a direct injection of over £30 billion of cash to businesses, equivalent to 1.5% of GDP.
Rishi Sunak: (11:57)
Let me speak directly to businesses: I know it’s incredibly difficult out there. We in government are doing everything we can to support you. We’re paying people’s wages up to 80% so someone can be furloughed rather than laid off to protect their jobs. We’re deferring over £30 billion of taxes until the end of the financial year. We’re lending unlimited sums of money interest free for 12 months. We’re abolishing business rates altogether this year if you’re in hospitality, retail and leisure. We’re providing cash grants of £25,000 for small business properties. The government is doing its best to stand behind you, and I am asking you to do your best to stand behind our workers.
Rishi Sunak: (12:47)
We are launching in the coming days a major national advertising campaign to communicate the available business support for businesses and people. Please look very carefully at that support before making any decisions to lay people off. It’s on all of us.
Rishi Sunak: (13:07)
We are starting a great national effort to protect jobs. But the truth is, we are already seeing job losses. And there may be more to come. I cannot promise you that no one will face hardship in the weeks ahead. So we will also act to protect you if the worst happens.
Rishi Sunak: (13:30)
To strengthen the safety net, I’m increasing today the Universal Credit standard allowance for the next 12 months by £1,000 a year. For the next 12 months, I’m increasing the Working Tax Credit basic element by the same amount as well. Together these measures will benefit over 4 million of our most vulnerable households.
Rishi Sunak: (13:56)
And I’m strengthening the safety net for self-employed people too, by suspending the minimum income floor for everyone affected by the economic impacts of coronavirus. That means self-employed people can now access, in full, Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees. Taken together, I’m announcing nearly £7 billion of extra support through the welfare system to strengthen the safety net and protect people’s incomes. And to support the self-employed through the tax system, I’m also announcing today that the next self-assessment payments will be deferred to January 2021.
Rishi Sunak: (14:41)
As well as keeping people in work and supporting those who lose their jobs or work for themselves, our Plan for Jobs and Incomes will help keep a roof over your head. We’ve acted already to make sure homeowners can get a three-month mortgage holiday if they need it. I’m announcing today nearly £1 billion of support for renters, by increasing the generosity of housing benefit and Universal Credit, so that the Local Housing Allowance will cover at least 30% of market rents in your area.
Rishi Sunak: (15:16)
The actions I’ve taken today represent an unprecedented economic intervention to support the jobs and incomes of the British people. A new, comprehensive job retention scheme. And a significantly strengthened safety net. Unprecedented measures, for unprecedented times.
Rishi Sunak: (15:39)
Let me close with one final observation: Now, more than at any time in our history, we will be judged by our capacity for compassion. Our ability to come through this won’t just be down to what government or businesses do, but by the individual acts of kindness that we show each other. The small business who does everything they can not to lay off their staff. The student who does a shop for their elderly neighbor. The retired nurse who volunteers to cover some shifts in their local hospital. When this is over, and it will be over, we want to look back on this moment and remember the many small acts of kindness done by us and to us. We want to look back on this time and remember how we thought first of others and acted with decency. We want to look back on this time and remember how, in the face of a generation-defining moment, we undertook a collective national effort, and we stood together. It’s on all of us. Thank you.
Boris Johnson: (16:53)
Thank you very much, Rishi. Jenny, is there anything you want to say at this stage?
Jenny Harries: (16:58)
[crosstalk 00:16:58] have the chance to answer questions on anything [crosstalk 00:16:58] science.
Boris Johnson: (16:58)
Okay, well, perhaps you can help us field the, any questions from the scientific and medical point of view, as they come. Can I go first to Alex Forsyth from the BBC?
Alex Forsyth: (17:09)
Prime Minister, thank you very much. The measures you’ve announced today will have a significant impact; not just on business, of course, but on people’s lives. Can you tell us, what has changed that’s made you introduce these measures now? How long, if you can, do you see these measures lasting, and how do you plan to enforce them? And Chancellor, if I may, you talk about unprecedented measures that you’re taking. How can you be sure that the tax and welfare system can cope to ensure that this support goes to those people who need it, and need it quickly? Thank you.
Boris Johnson: (17:39)
Thanks. Well, Alex, what we’re doing today is really enforcing what we set out in the fourth part of our advice on Monday. I think people’ve made a huge effort in the last four or five days to comply. We saw big reductions in people attending some pubs, a lot of pubs across the country. A lot of effort was made by people to reduce unnecessary social contact, as we said. But it was becoming clear that in order to drive that curve down, to reduce the unnecessary social gatherings by 75%, which is what the science tells us we need to do to have an impact on that curve, then we need now to be making it absolutely clear that we’re going to enforce these closures. And so that’s the pubs, bars, clubs, and so on that I mentioned, in addition to gyms, leisure centers, and so on.
Boris Johnson: (18:39)
Now, how are we going to enforce it? Well, clearly, there are licensing arrangements that will make it, I think, relatively simple to do, should that really be necessary. And we will enforce it strictly, but in reality, I think everybody can see the imperative of doing what is necessary, of protecting our NHS and saving lives. Rishi?
Rishi Sunak: (19:09)
Alex, you’re absolutely right to ask the question. I think when I was here earlier, I said it’s all very well, it’s easy for me to stand here and announce things, but I want to make sure that the help I’m announcing can get to the people that we want to benefit from it. And so that’s why, as we’ve thought about what we’re doing, there are various ways you can design job support schemes, and there are various ways that we can get extra money into our welfare system to strengthen the safety net. We have deliberately focused on scheme design and particular policies that we know are easy to operationalize quickly. And there are many ideas that people have about how to do all these things, and we’ve been looking through all of them.
Rishi Sunak: (19:50)
But I will put on record my thanks to the staff at HMRC and the Department for Work and Pensions. They themselves will be under enormous operating pressure over the coming weeks and months, like all of us, and every business. So as I said, we specifically designed this scheme to work in a way that minimizes the operational complexity. And similarly, with the welfare interventions that we’ve made, we have deliberately picked those that are absolutely the easiest and most straightforward, and require the least manual intervention.
Boris Johnson: (20:19)
Thanks, Rishi. Larisa Brown, Daily Mail.
Larisa Brown: (20:21)
Thank you, Prime Minister. Could we get to a stage where NHS workers have to choose who to try and save because there aren’t enough ventilators? And also, it’s obviously Mother’s Day this Sunday. Are you urging people to stay away from their mothers? And will you be seeing yours? Thank you.
Boris Johnson: (20:42)
On the first question, about clinical judgments, doctors in the NHS, clinicians in the NHS, already make very difficult judgements. But our objective, and the objective with this whole campaign, is to ensure that we flatten the curve, as we’ve been saying repeatedly over the last couple of weeks. We flatten the curve, but also that we lift up the line of NHS resilience and capabilities. That means there’s a massive effort going on right now to ensure that we do have enough ventilators, enough ICUs, to cope. And that is why it’s so vital that people follow the measures that we’ve outlined.
Boris Johnson: (21:23)
And as for Mother’s Day: Look, I think my advice would be that people should really think very carefully about, irrespective of whether they are visiting their mothers, any elderly person who may be in a vulnerable group. It doesn’t matter whether they’re necessarily over 70. The issue is whether they are in one of the vulnerable groups. Think very carefully about the risk of transmission of the virus and follow the advice. Look at the medical advice. Our advice is that elderly people, people with serious underlying health conditions, people in the later stages of pregnancy, you have to be careful about the transmission of the virus. And I’m sure people will handle that advice accordingly.
Boris Johnson: (22:22)
And I’m in regular contact with all members of my family, but I’ll be working very hard on Sunday, I can tell you that much. I’ll certainly be sending her my very best wishes and hope to get to see her.
Boris Johnson: (22:37)
Shahid Khan, ITV.
Shahid Khan: (22:41)
Prime Minister, there’s been an escalation in the measures that you have been recommending and advising, and now ordering. Are we going to get to a stage where there are further measures that you’d consider, including potentially limiting transport and movement of people around the country?
Shahid Khan: (22:55)
And to the Chancellor, if I may, will this wage protection scheme cover those on zero-hour contracts? If so, given that so many people on zero-hour contracts do not have a set salary every month, how will their wages be determined, and who will determine them?
Boris Johnson: (23:10)
Yeah, look, [inaudible 00:23:10], on transport, I don’t know whether you were here yesterday, transport is fundamental to our ability to deliver vital public services. I was pretty clear that we don’t want, for instance, to immobilize the Tube or our major transport networks. It’s just too important for the delivery of crucial public services.
Rishi Sunak: (23:34)
Yes, and on those, everyone who’s covered by the scheme, it covers everybody who is on the PAYE system through a company. So we’re publishing detailed guidance shortly. But depending on your particular employment contract, it might be different depending on who you are. It covers zero-hours, covers a variety of different situations. But it may well be that you are on a PAYE scheme and have a set of regular earnings, and it will be covered, depending on your particular circumstance. I can’t generalize for every single person’s employment status, but in general, our desire here is to cover as broad a range of people as possible. We’ve wanted to make it as comprehensive a scheme as possible for those in employment, which is why we haven’t limited it by company, by sector, by size of business. We deliberately targeted it to do as economy-wide an intervention as we can.
Boris Johnson: (24:21)
Sam Coates, Sky News.
Sam Coates: (24:23)
Sam Coates, Sky News. Chancellor, you’ve announced an extraordinarily large package today. Do you have any sense of how much it’ll cost per month? And presumably it’ll be funded by borrowing, so can you guarantee that this package will be available month after month, up to maybe 18 months, which some of the scientific studies suggest might be the duration of what we’re facing?
Sam Coates: (24:49)
Jenny Harries, millions of children broke up today for the last time from school. Could you just be crystal clear about what children should and shouldn’t do, from Monday? Can they go to the park, go to the playground, have play dates with their friends? I know there’s a lot of confusion out there.
Sam Coates: (25:08)
And Prime Minister, Sky News has talked to a senior emergency medicine consultant in a South London hospital today. He’s just warning about the dangers ahead. The fact that they’re not set up for the huge numbers of ventilators needed, the disbelief they feel at the queues outside the supermarket with peoples too close together, and calling for more lockdown, and warning that we could be in a situation worse than Italy, and upset at what they call the falsely-placed sense of optimism they see amongst some politicians. What is your message to that doctor?
Boris Johnson: (25:41)
Rishi Sunak: (25:41)
Can I start, Sam? Yep. You’re right. It is a significant intervention. We’ve thought through that and our intention is to finance the package through the government’s normal debt management operations. As we’ve already announced, the treasury and the DMO, the Debt Management Office, are shortly to publish a comprehensive update to the gilt financing remit, and that will be done in April. And of course, the DMO, Treasury, and Bank of England are coordinating closely to support the functioning of the gilt markets, and we’re very confident that we can finance it in that way.
Jenny Harries: (26:13)
So I’ve got a very simple answer to that. I think there should be some guidance published today from the Department for Education, which has had clinical and scientific input. The basic strand running through all of these measures is about social distancing and reducing the totality of our social interactions. That applies to children just as it does to the rest of us, but also there is a balance there between maintaining physical and mental wellbeing when we’re going through what will be, for all of us, quite a stressful period. So for children who are at home, a family or a household group usually has the same sort of exposure risk. So put nicely, that just means it’s okay for them to play together usually in their own home environment, kick a ball around in the garden if they have one. We’re not saying don’t go outside, but we are saying if you go outside, go in a way which reduces your social contact.
Jenny Harries: (27:04)
So clearly for children there is a safety issue here, and a safeguarding one. We don’t want to suggest every small child should go off on a solitary walk across the park. That would not be a helpful public health measure. But certainly, with appropriate supervision, buddying children, for example, keeping two meters apart off for a bike ride together or something, that is absolutely fine. And in many ways, we would encourage that. But there are some simple principles, again, around that. Make sure you hang onto your own bike, your own equipment, or whatever. Wash your hands regularly. If you’ve got coughs and sneezes, obviously, use a tissue. All the things that we’ve been encouraging people to do. So very much we want children… The weather is getting better, we want children to be exercising. But to do so not in groups.
Jenny Harries: (27:50)
And I think one of the issues is, where you have team games, for example, it’s not just the team game itself which can be problematic. So I would not encourage those. But the most important bit, also, is the social element around it. So if everybody piles up in shared cars, that’s not a good thing to do. And if everybody tried, they won’t be able to now, but if everybody tried to go to a café or restaurant afterwards, that would also not be a good thing to do. So exercising, fine. But cut right down on the social connections.
Boris Johnson: (28:21)
Yeah, and Sam, just on your last question: I don’t think anybody in government could conceivably be accused of underestimating the scale of the crisis this country now faces. It’s perfectly obvious, when you look at the gradient of the disease, that we have a real threat now to our country, to the ability of our NHS to manage it. And unless we get this right, we are going to see thousands of lives lost, as I say, needlessly. But we have an opportunity, as I’ve said, to get on top of it. To make sure that we turn the tide. And to do that, we’ve got to follow the advice that we’re giving. And that’s why we’re taking the measures that we are today. That’s why it’s absolutely vital that people do avoid unnecessary social contact. And that’s why we’re closing the pubs and the bars and the theaters and so on, because we need now to stop the velocity of circulation of this disease.
Boris Johnson: (29:16)
And I’ve made it very clear to the country that we will take exceptional measures to do that. But we are also taking exceptional measures to help and to compensate those who are adversely economically affected by what we have to do as a country. And I think everybody understands the two halves of this. Everybody understands that people in employment, businesses, workers, everybody is making a huge sacrifice now to protect the lives of people who are vulnerable to coronavirus. And it’s absolutely vital and right that the government should stand behind those businesses and those workers as well, and that’s what we’re doing today.
Boris Johnson: (29:57)
And on your second point about supermarkets, look, I answered this yesterday, and I make the same point again: I think people should shop reasonably and considerately. We do have fantastic supply chains. We’re having another meeting with the supermarkets tomorrow. I am chairing another meeting with the supermarkets tomorrow. And they’re very confident they can get the stuff from farm to fork, so everybody should just shop reasonably and be considerate of others.
Boris Johnson: (30:29)
Francis Elliott, The Times.
Francis Elliott: (30:34)
Thank you. Mr. Sunak, you mentioned shops. Can you clear up whether shops are to be forced to close? It didn’t appear on the list that was mentioned by the Prime Minister.
Francis Elliott: (30:45)
And Jenny Harries, could you update us on how we are doing with protective personal equipment? That’s obviously something that’s deeply concerning.
Francis Elliott: (30:55)
And Mr. Johnson, could you just say, in very simple terms, what you think about people who are ignoring the advice? I mean, it seems you sort of resisted the temptation yesterday, or the invitation, to say that they were behaving immoral. Do you not think that if people aren’t following these advice, that they are actually being immoral?
Boris Johnson: (31:16)
Rishi, on the shops.
Rishi Sunak: (31:17)
Yes. No, just very specifically, the list that the Prime Minister gave and Jenny outlined is a specific list. I was just talking in more general terms. But there’s a very specific category of places where social contact happens, which is significant to the spread of the virus, which Jenny has spoken to and can speak to again. But that, I meant very specifically the places that she had, and the Prime Minister had, referred to already.
Jenny Harries: (31:39)
So yes. So it’s very much those areas where people are gathering for social reasons. So in many ways, they’re almost encouraging the spread of disease, simply by virtue of those establishments. So restaurants, cafés, bars, are where you’re meeting. But we recognize how difficult this is for people’s lives. So having takeout facilities, or the opportunity to convert some of those, means that food supplies will continue. And that applies very much to supermarkets, obviously, and other shops. So it’s leisure centers. If you are exercising outside, that is fine, but inside is not appropriate. So the leisure centers will close. So it’s areas you can imagine where you’re going purposefully for social gathering which are the ones that we’re most keen to reduce the social interactions.
Boris Johnson: (32:26)
Yeah, sorry. PPE.
Jenny Harries: (32:29)
Sorry, PPE, yes. So PPE. So the country has a perfectly adequate supply of personal protective equipment, PPE, at the moment. That encompasses quite a wide range of different gowns, masks, gloves, all sorts of things.
Jenny Harries: (32:43)
There have been, I think, some differential deliveries, if you like, in some areas, which has caused a degree of concern recently. That is completely resolved now. And in fact, what we’ve done in the last 36 hours is set up an entirely separate PPE oversight and supply chain, which allows hospitals… but also we need to be very clear there are other workers in the care system who are equally important… and will allow that appropriate management to ensure that the supply and demand is there. And I think we do need to be really clear, this is an unprecedented health event for this country. And so it is not unlikely, in many ways, that we will have found a pressure in the early days where an individual hospital, individual trust, or an organization has had to suddenly ramp up its demand. But that supply is there. And running alongside that is a call out to arms, a bit like ventilators and testing as well, to make sure we are exploring every avenue and opportunity for keeping those supplies coming through.
Boris Johnson: (33:47)
Yeah. Francis, on your moral point: I don’t want to get into moral name-calling and so on and so forth. But I do accept that what we’re doing is extraordinary. We’re taking away the ancient, inalienable right of free-born people of the United Kingdom to go to the pub. And I can understand how people feel about that.
Boris Johnson: (34:09)
But I say to people who do go against the advice that we’re getting, the very clear advice that we’re getting from our medical and scientific experts: You’re not only putting your own life, the lives of your family, at risk; you’re endangering the community. And you’re making it more difficult for us to get on and protect the NHS and save lives. And if you comply, if people comply as I say, then we will not only save lives, thousands of lives, but we’ll come out of this thing all the faster.
Boris Johnson: (34:40)
Tom Newton Dunn, The Sun.
Tom Newton Dunn: (34:44)
Thank you, Prime Minister. By closing pubs, restaurants, clubs, et cetera, is it not a considerable risk that what you’ll therefore do immediately is push, maybe, many young people into their own homes? They’ll just have big parties. You’re not going to ban parties, or are you? And what is your advice to young people? Not to gather in groups of a hundred and drink the same amount behind closed doors?
Tom Newton Dunn: (35:07)
And Chancellor, if you don’t mind me asking, the one element of society affairs you missed out with all this is charities, the voluntary sector. Though you’re covering their wages, charity income is down 40% since they started this in only a couple of weeks. They’ve asked you for a bailout as well. Will you now consider that?
Boris Johnson: (35:25)
You can start. Tom.
Rishi Sunak: (35:28)
Thank you. So in terms of support for the charity sector, the significant business rates relief schemes that we operated in the last or two will certainly benefit them, which will have direct cash flow benefit to them, and they are covered by today’s intervention, which I would underscore is significant. In terms of more support for voluntary and community groups, that’s something that I’m actively talking to the Secretary of State for Communities for, and especially as we try and look after the most vulnerable in our communities, it may well be that we should increase funding for local voluntary community groups to help with that. And that’s something I’d say we’re actively looking at.
Rishi Sunak: (36:08)
But just to underline more broadly, the scheme that I’ve outlined today is unprecedented in scope and scale for a British government. And it is an enormous commitment by us to British jobs and British workers. This is going to be difficult, but we are with you through this. And we are doing absolutely everything we can to support your jobs and to support your incomes through this time.
Boris Johnson: (36:32)
Yeah, and Tom, on your point about young people: Obviously we can’t forbid every form of socializing between human beings. Of course we’re not doing that. But on the other hand, what we are saying is that the risk is not just for young people. The risk is that they will become vectors of the disease for older relatives, with potentially fatal consequences. And we ask people to think about that. And that’s why we’re taking the decisive steps we’re taking in respect of places that actually invite people to socialize. That’s why we’ve issued the very strong advice that we have. And I really hope everybody takes it. I’m afraid we’re going to have to wrap up now, because we’ve got more things to go and weigh and do.
Boris Johnson: (37:23)
But two important things that I hope you’ll take away from today, two important bits of news: Yes, we are telling pubs, bars, restaurants, clubs to close. Gyms, leisure centers, we’re telling them to close. And it’s a huge wrench to do that. Everybody understands that. It’s a huge wrench. And it’s heartbreaking to think of the businesses that will face difficulties as a result of the measures this country has had to take.
Boris Johnson: (37:53)
But that is why we are also simultaneously announcing a quite exceptional package of support, and not just for businesses, but for individual workers. And our message to business is that we will stand behind you, and we hope that you will stand behind your workers.
Boris Johnson: (38:15)
And to the country: This time, it is different. We all remember what happened in 2008. This time, we want to make sure, as we heal the economic damage that this is causing, that we put the people first. Thanks all very much.