‘A struggle humanity will win’ - Boris Johnson urges public to stick to coronavirus rules in televised speech
PUBLISHED: 20:09 22 September 2020 | UPDATED: 07:11 23 September 2020
The prime minister has warned one person’s mild cough could be another’s “death knell” as he urged people to abide by new restrictions in a bid to prevent a second lockdown.
Boris Johnson addressed the nation in a televised address on Tuesday night, after introducing a string of new measures earlier in the day.
The latest restrictions, to combat a rise in coronavirus case around much of the country, included a 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants, retail staff having to wear masks at work and increased fines for those breaking the Rule of Six.
He said the pandemic was the “single biggest crisis the world has faced in my lifetime”.
But he said: “And yet I am more certain than ever that this is a struggle that humanity will win, and we in this country will win – and to achieve what we must I want to talk to you directly tonight about the choices that we face – none of them easy – and why we must take action now.
“I know that we can succeed because we have succeeded before.”
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He said while most of the nation had complied with the rules there had been “too many breaches - too many opportunities for our invisible enemy to slip through undetected”.
“The virus has started to spread again in an exponential way. Infections are up, hospital admissions are climbing,” he said.
He said he was also asking office workers to work from home if they can, and said his approach - which he described as “robust but proportionate” - had support across the political spectrum.
“The tragic reality of having Covid is that your mild cough can be someone else’s death knell,” he added.
He said: “That’s why we need to suppress the virus now, and as for that minority who may continue to flout the rules, we will enforce those rules with tougher penalties and fines of up to £10,000. We will put more police out on the streets and use the army to backfill if necessary.
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“And of course I am deeply, spiritually reluctant to make any of these impositions, or infringe anyone’s freedom, but unless we take action the risk is that we will have to go for tougher measures later, when the deaths have already mounted and we have a huge caseload of infection such as we had in the spring.
“If we let this virus get out of control now, it would mean that our NHS had no space – once again – to deal with cancer patients and millions of other non-Covid medical needs.
“And if we were forced into a new national lockdown, that would threaten not just jobs and livelihoods but the loving human contact on which we all depend.
“It would mean renewed loneliness and confinement for the elderly and vulnerable, and ultimately it would threaten once again the education of our children. We must do all we can to avoid going down that road again.”
He said if people don’t follow the rules the government reserved “the right to go further”.
“We must take action now because a stitch in time saves nine; and this way we can keep people in work, we can keep our shops and our schools open, and we can keep our country moving forward while we work together to suppress the virus,” he said.
“That is our strategy, and if we can follow this package together, then I know we can succeed because in so many ways we are better prepared than before.”
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He said things will improve by spring, when there was a higher hope of a vaccine and efficient mass testing.
But, adding that we were not there yet, he said: “But until we do, we must rely on our willingness to look out for each other, to protect each other. Never in our history has our collective destiny and our collective health depended so completely on our individual behaviour.
“If we follow these simple rules together, we will get through this winter together. There are unquestionably difficult months to come.
“And the fight against Covid is by no means over. I have no doubt, however, that there are great days ahead.
“But now is the time for us all to summon the discipline, and the resolve, and the spirit of togetherness that will carry us through.”
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