LONDON, July 11: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called on the British public to try and start leading more normal lives as the country starts to gradually emerge from the coronavirus lockdown.
Addressing People’s Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) on social media, the UK prime minister urged people to start going back to work if they can and feel confident to return to shops and restaurants as they begin opening up by following the social distancing guidance.
“The best thing is to cautiously go back to work. My message now would be that if you can go back to work, then, provided your company’s obeying the guidelines, provided its safe, then you should go back,” he said.
“People should try to lead their lives more normally… I want to see more people feeling confident to use the shops, use the restaurants, get back into work. But only if we all follow the guidance,” he told People’s PMQs on Facebook on Friday.
While highlighting that the stay at home lockdown message was on its way out, he also indicated a rethink on compulsory face coverings and masks in public spaces besides just public transport in the UK.
“I do think we need to be stricter in insisting people wear face coverings in confined spaces where they are meeting people they don’t normally meet. We are looking at ways of making sure that people really do have face coverings in shops, for instance, where there is a risk of transmission,” he said, triggering speculation that the UK government was in the process of announcing new rules on face coverings soon.
He also indicated that strict precautions against Covid-19 infections could allow Britain to minimise economic disruption in the coming months without seeing a second wave of coronavirus and hoped for V-shaped or quick economic bounce back.
“I hope that we’ll have as V-shaped a recovery as possible but we simply can’t be certain,” he said.
The UK prime minister also rejected demands to extend the furlough or Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme beyond October and said the government’s “vision is to keep this economy moving as fast as we possibly can, given the difficulties that we’re in”.
He pointed to plans to invest hundreds of billions of pounds in infrastructure projects to boost productivity, as well as the schemes designed to protect jobs, announced earlier this week by UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak.
“We are going to continue in a balanced way safely and cautiously to reopen our economy and get things moving as fast as we can. What we want to do is create an environment in which our businesses and our enterprises, feel confident to invest in the UK for the long term,” he said.
Indicating that localised lockdowns may have to be used, he also warned that a full national lockdown could return if the next stage of the pandemic, which has claimed over 44,000 lives in the UK, is not carefully managed.
“Obviously you have to keep in reserve the ultimate tool, the national lockdown. But nobody wants to do that ever again,” he said. (PTI)