In full: everything discussed by Boris Johnson during his daily briefing

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Here is everything the Prime Minister spoke about during his daily Covid-19 briefing on the day that according to the Government, the death toll in the UK reached 281.

As of 9am on Sunday (22ND March), 78,340 people had been tested for coronavirus in the UK, with 5,683 patients confirmed positive, the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England said. The Prime Minister urged people to follow advice to the letter and not to take unnecessary risks Mr Johnson added that the most vulnerable would be protected by a new shielding strategy “Stay two metres apart and follow social distancing guidelines.” Nicola Sturgeon had already announced new measures in the fight against coronavirus as the number of people dying with the disease in Scotland reached 10. Mr Johnson thanked the vast majority of people who are following the advice carefully. Thirty-seven people - aged between 18 and 102 - have died after testing positive for coronavirus in England bringing the total there to 257, NHS England said.

Speaking at the daily press conference at Downing Street, Boris Johnson said: "I want to thank everybody in the country today for the whole effort we are collectively making.

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"You name it, absolutely everybody who is keeping this country going today.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during the press conference, at 10 Downing Street, in London, on the government's coronavirus action plan. Picture: Alberto Pezzali/PA WirePrime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during the press conference, at 10 Downing Street, in London, on the government's coronavirus action plan. Picture: Alberto Pezzali/PA Wire
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking during the press conference, at 10 Downing Street, in London, on the government's coronavirus action plan. Picture: Alberto Pezzali/PA Wire

"I want to thank everyone who didn't visit their mum for Mother's Day, but Skyped them or rang them instead.

"Thank you for your sacrifice, I know how tough it must be."

Mr Johnson added: "It's crucial that people understand that tomorrow that the schools are closed.

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"I want, of course I do, people to be able to go to the parks, open spaces and enjoy themselves.

"It is crucial for health, physical and mental well-being.

"But please follow that advice and don't think that fresh air in itself automatically provides some immunity.

"Take this advice seriously, follow it, because it's absolutely crucial."

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Mr Johnson continued: "The reason we're taking these unprecedented, of course, that we have to slow the spread of the disease and to save thousands of lives.

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"Today we have come to the stage of our plan that I advertised from the outset when we first set out the plan of the UK government.

"When we now have to take special steps to protect the particularly vulnerable and you'll remember that I said the moment would come to shield those with serious conditions - there are probably about one and a half million in all.

"This shielding will do more than any other single measure that we are setting out, to save life."

Parks and Recreation

The Prime Minister insisted that he did not want to close down access to parks and playgrounds because of the benefits to people's mental and physical wellbeing.

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But amid reports of crowds flocking to parks, beaches and beauty spots across the country, he said the Government was ready to impose the kind of "tougher" measures adopted in other European countries if people did not behave responsibly.

Responding to questions on the dangers to elderly people leaving their homes, deputy CMO Dr Jenny Harries OBE said that the public had a responsibility to make outside spaces safer by not congregating.

"There is a real balance point here - what we don't want to find is that we grow mental health problems or we grow other physical problems because of such a strict imposition," she said.

"The virus doesn't last well outside for all sorts of reasons around temperature, UV light and everything else so actually an outdoor environment compared with an indoor one is generally a safer one - but the difficulty is if people are congregating outside or coming together.

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"A reasonably fit 70 year old who has been cooped up because he's safely isolating at home for a number of nights and wants to go outside for a bit of fresh air, and does so at a distance of two metres from somebody else, will no doubt boost his mental health and he'll no doubt feel able to tuck himself away perhaps for the next 23 and a half hours quite safely."

Dr Harries added people who were congregating were "dangerous" and making outside environments "unavailable" to others.

Dr Harries said smaller gatherings of around 10 or 20 people presented a higher risk than large-scale meet-ups.

She said: "The reason we probably all had not good mothers' days is because having a family gathering where people are quite intimate with each other in terms of social distancing.

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"It's very difficult to be in a family group when you know each other very well and stay two metres apart - they're probably riskier gatherings than the large ones."


Meanwhile, the NHS is to begin sending out letters to the 1.5 million people considered to be most at risk of the disease urging them to remain at home for the next 12 weeks.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said that now was the time to "go further" to shield clinically vulnerable people.

"In recent weeks heroic workers in the NHS, social care and public services in local government have been shouldering the country's burden," he said.

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"I think we owe it to them and the most vulnerable in society to stay home, to protect the NHS and, by doing this, to save lives.

"And so today we have to go further to shield the most clinically vulnerable people to help save their lives."

Mr Jenrick added: "I don't underestimate what we're asking of people. It will be tough."But if you are one of these people I want to assure these people on behalf of the Government that you are not alone."Mr Jenrick said the Government was creating a network of local hubs to deliver medicines by pharmacists to the most vulnerable and lonely people.Groceries would be delivered by councils working with supermarkets, with "parcels left on the doorstep"."Nobody needs to worry about getting the food and essential items that they will need."He said there would be opportunities for members of the public to volunteer.

At his daily No 10 news conference, Mr Johnson - who has faced criticism for not acting faster to slow the spread of the virus - said ministers had already closed down whole swathes of the economy, shutting pubs, clubs and restaurants.

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He said the Government had always followed the scientific advice when it came to access to open spaces - but warned people needed to observe the guidance that they should not gather in groups and remain two metres apart.

"What they have always said so far is that the health benefits for the whole of society of keeping the parks and playgrounds open if we possibly can outweigh the epidemiological value of closing them," he said.

"But of course looking at the way people behave and the way they are responding, we keep that under constant, constant review.

"If people can't make use of parks and playgrounds responsibly, if they can't do it in a way that observes the two-metre rule then of course we are going to have to look at further measures.

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"The general principle should be that we should all as far as we possibly can stay home, protect our NHS and thereby save lives."

Further measures

On any "further measures" that may have to be taken on social distancing, Mr Johnson said: "I don't think you need to use your imagination very much to see where we might have to go, and we will think about this very very actively in the next 24 hours.

"We need to think about the kind of measures we've seen elsewhere - other countries that have been forced to bring in restrictions on people's movements altogether, now as I say I don't want to do that.

"It's so important that that pleasure and that ability is preserved but it can only really be preserved if everybody acts responsibly and conforms with those principles of staying apart from one another and social distancing.

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"If we can't do that then, yup, I'm afraid we're going to have to bring forward tougher measures."

"The more we comply now, the faster we will beat it and the faster we will get through it."

The Prime Minister, closing the hour-long press conference, said: "I want to thank the vast majority of people who are really behaving incredibly responsibly and following the guidance and advice on social distancing.

"Some people either through heedlessness or whatever are not making it easy for us because they are, as Jenny says, congregating in a way that is likely to spread the disease.

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"We need to think very carefully now about how we take steps to correct that.

"The best thing that everybody can do - if you're going outside, observe social distancing. Stay two metres apart - it's not such a difficult thing. Do it.

"We are saying generally to people stay at home if you possibly can.