Prime Minister’s statement to House on COVID-19

Mr Speaker, before I begin, I am sure the whole House will join me in sending our deepest condolences to the families and friends of

James Furlong, Joe Ritchie-Bennett and David Wails,

who were brutally killed in Reading on Saturday.

To assault defenceless people in a park is not simply an act of wickedness but abject cowardice,

and we will never yield to those who would seek to destroy our way of life.

Mr Speaker, with permission I will update the House on the next steps in our plan to rebuild our economy and reopen our society,

while waging our struggle against Covid-19.

From the outset, we have trusted in the common sense and perseverance of the British people

and their response has more than justified our faith.

Since I set out our plan on the 11th May,

we have been clear that our cautious relaxation of the guidance is entirely conditional on our continued defeat of the virus.

In the first half of May, nearly 69,000 people tested positive for Covid-19 across the UK;

by the first half of June, that total had fallen by nearly 70 percent to just under 22,000.

The number of new infections is now declining by between 2 and 4 percent every day.

Four weeks ago, an average of 1 in 400 people in the community in England had COVID-19;

in the first half of June, this figure was 1 in 1,700.

We created a human shield around the NHS and in turn our doctors and nurses have protected us,

and together we have saved our hospitals from being overwhelmed.

On the 11th May, 1,073 people were admitted to hospital in England, Wales and Northern Ireland with Covid-19,

by 20th June, this had fallen by 74 per cent to 283.

This pandemic has inflicted permanent scars and we mourn everyone we have lost.

Measured by a seven-day rolling average, the number of daily deaths peaked at 943 on the 14th April,

on 11th May it was 476,

and yesterday, the rolling average stood at 130.

We have ordered over 2.2 billion items of protective equipment from UK based manufacturers, many of whose production lines have been called into being to serve this new demand –

and yesterday, we conducted or posted 139,659 tests, bringing the total to over 8 million.

And while we remain vigilant, we do not believe there is currently a risk of a second peak of infections that might overwhelm the NHS.

Taking everything together, we continue to meet our five tests

and the Chief Medical Officers of all four home nations have downgraded the UK’s Covid Alert Level from four to three,

meaning that we no longer face a virus spreading exponentially,

though it remains in general circulation.

The administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland hold responsibility for their own lockdown restrictions

and they will respond to the united view of the Chief Medical Officers at their own pace, based on their own judgment,

but all parts of the UK are now travelling in the same direction and we will continue to work together to ensure that everyone in our country gets the support they need.

Thanks to our progress, we can now go further and safely ease the lockdown in England.

At every stage, caution will remain our watchword, and each step will be conditional and reversible.

Mr Speaker, given the significant fall in the prevalence of the virus, we can change the two-metre social distancing rule, from 4th July.

I know this rule effectively makes life impossible for large parts of our economy, even without other restrictions.

For example, it prevents all but a fraction of our hospitality industry from operating.

So that is why almost two weeks ago, I asked our experts to conduct a review and I will place a summary of their conclusions in the libraries of both Houses this week.

Where it is possible to keep 2 metres apart people should.

But where it is not, we will advise people to keep a social distance of ‘one metre plus’,

meaning they should remain one metre apart, while taking mitigations to reduce the risk of transmission.

We are today publishing guidance on how businesses can reduce the risk by taking certain steps to protect workers and customers.

These include, for instance, avoiding face-to-face seating by changing office layouts,

reducing the number of people in enclosed spaces,

improving ventilation,

using protective screens and face coverings,

closing non-essential social spaces,

providing hand sanitiser

and changing shift patterns so that staff work in set teams.

And of course, we already mandate face coverings on public transport.

Whilst the experts cannot give a precise assessment of how much the risk is reduced,

they judge these mitigations would make “1 metre plus” broadly equivalent to the risk at 2 metres if those mitigations are fully implemented.

Either will be acceptable and our guidance will change accordingly.

This vital change enables the next stage of our plan to ease the lockdown.

Mr Speaker, I am acutely conscious people will ask legitimate questions about why certain activities are allowed and others are not.

I must ask the House to understand that the virus has no interest in these debates.

Its only interest, its only ambition is to exploit any opportunities is to recapture ground that we might carelessly vacate.

There is one certainty: the fewer social contacts you have, the safer you will be.

My duty, our duty as the Government, is to guide the British people, balancing our overriding aim of controlling the virus against our natural desire to bring back normal life.

We cannot lift all the restrictions at once, so we have to make difficult judgments,

and every step is scrupulously weighed against the evidence.

Our principle is to trust the British public to use their common sense in the full knowledge of the risks,

remembering that the more we open up, the more vigilant we will need to be.

From now on we will ask people to follow guidance on social contact instead of legislation.

In that spirit we advise that from 4 July, two households of any size should be able to meet in any setting inside or out.

That does not mean they must always be the same two households.

It will be possible for instance to meet one set of grandparents one weekend, and the others the following weekend.

We are not recommending meetings of multiple households indoors because of the risk of creating greater chains of transmission.

Outside, the guidance remains that people from several households can meet in groups of up to six.

and it follows that two households can also meet, regardless of size.

Mr Speaker, I can tell the House that we will also re-open restaurants and pubs.

All hospitality indoors will be limited to table-service, and our guidance will encourage minimal staff and customer contact.

We will ask businesses to help NHS Test and Trace respond to any local outbreaks

by collecting

/Public Release. The material in this public release comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.