Boris Johnson says he will take responsibility for second wave of coronavirus cases after easing lockdown

James MorrisSenior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
Yahoo News UK

Boris Johnson has said he will take responsibility for a second wave of coronavirus infections after his latest easing of the lockdown.

Earlier on Tuesday, Johnson announced the most significant easing of restrictions since the lockdown was imposed on 23 March.

Scroll to continue with content
Ad

From 4 July in England, social distancing guidelines will be reduced from two metres to one metre, two households will be allowed to meet and stay overnight, and businesses such as pubs, restaurants and hairdressers will be able to reopen.

Asked at Tuesday’s coronavirus press conference if he will take responsibility “whatever happens next”, Johnson said: “Yes, of course, I take responsibility, the government takes responsibility, for these decisions.

Boris Johnson said he will take responsibility 'whatever happens next' at Tuesday's coronavirus press conference. (@10DowningStreet/Twitter)
Boris Johnson said he will take responsibility 'whatever happens next' at Tuesday's coronavirus press conference. (@10DowningStreet/Twitter)

“We are indebted to our scientific colleagues for their advice continually, but it is our responsibility to choose.”

It came as Downing Street’s top COVID-19 advisers, Sir Patrick Vallance and Prof Chris Whitty, used the briefing to sound caution about the easing of the restrictions.

Prof Whitty, for example, urged people to carry on staying two metres apart from one another where possible.

He also warned there will certainly be a spike in cases if people don’t take the new measures seriously.

He said: “If people hear a distorted version of what’s being said, that says ‘this is all fine now, it’s gone away’ and start behaving in ways that they normally would have before this virus happened, yes we will get an uptick for sure.”

Prof Whitty, who is England’s chief medical officer, said the lifting of restrictions is “absolutely not risk-free” and “it is absolutely critical people stick to the guidance”.

Prof Whitty also warned the virus is likely to be in circulation in the “winter and into next spring”.

Johnson himself admitted Prof Whitty had concerns about pubs reopening. The PM added: “We can’t have great writhing scenes in the beer gardens when the virus could be passed on.

“This has to be done in a sensible way.”

Tuesday’s briefing was the final daily coronavirus press conference. Downing Street said they will now only be held for “significant announcements”.

The daily briefings began on 16 March, when the number of COVID-19 cases was beginning to rapidly accelerate.

Coronavirus: what happened today

Click here to sign up to the latest news, advice and information with our daily Catch-up newsletter

Read more about COVID-19

How to get a coronavirus test if you have symptoms
How easing of lockdown rules affects you
In pictures: How UK school classrooms could look in new normal
How public transport could look after lockdown
How our public spaces will change in the future

Help and advice

Read the full list of official FAQs here
10 tips from the NHS to help deal with anxiety
What to do if you think you have symptoms
How to get help if you've been furloughed

What to read next