Twitter has reacted to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s latest set of coronavirus restrictions after they were unveiled in tonight’s speech.
Boris Johnson warned Britons they faced a long hard winter of police-enforced curbs on their freedom to see off coronavirus, saying the alternative was ‘many more families losing loved ones before their time’.
It caused some to joke ‘winter is coming’ in funny jibes at the Government’s handling of the pandemic.
In a televised address to the nation the Prime Minister, flanked by a Union Jack, said he was ‘deeply, spiritually reluctant’ to make new ‘impositions, or infringe anyone’s freedom’ after unveiling new measures in Parliament today.
Social media users took the opportunity to mock Mr Johnson with posts that included pasting his face on an anime cartoon character and submerging the prime minister in a muddy puddle.
One user said: ‘Genuinely think bojo is gonna pounce out my tv with that fist movement.’
This evening’s speech caused some social media users to joke ‘winter is coming’ ahead of a tightening of coronavirus restrictions in the UK
Social media users took the opportunity to mock Prime Minister Boris Johnson with posts including pasting his face on an anime cartoon character
Another post showed Mr Johnson saluting as he became submerged in a muddy bank of water
This social media user accused Mr Johnson of being a ‘clown’ alongside photos of a creature looking sweet with the caption ‘corona at 9.59pm. A second caption, in front of a scary creature, said: ‘corona at 10.01pm’
Others complained they had to wait for the end of the address before they could watch the Great British Bake Off.
Some posted pictures of their pets watching the TV. One cat seemed engrossed while a dog seemed to be confused as it looked around towards its owner.
Speaking from Downing Street tonight Mr Johnson warned that ‘iron laws of geometrical progression are shouting at us from the graphs that we risk many more deaths, many more families losing loved ones before their time’.
And he hit out at his critics – including Tory MPs and business leaders who warned of the economic impact of what he is doing, adding: ‘To those who say we don’t need this stuff, and we should leave people to take their own risks, I say these risks are not our own.
One social media user placed a red nose on Mr Johnson to insinuate he thought the prime minister was a clown
A poster mocked the Government’s signage with a remastered version that read ‘too little / too late / again’ (right). Another poster mocked the Government’s change in messaging
Mr Johnson was compared to former wartime prime minister Winston Churchill as a social media user said he was a ‘poundland version’
A reference to Shrek saw Mr Johnson compared to Lord Maximus Farquaad who once said: ‘Some of you may die but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make’
‘The tragic reality of having Covid is that your mild cough can be someone else’s death knell.
‘And as for the suggestion that we should simply lock up the elderly and the vulnerable – with all the suffering that would entail – I must tell you that this is just not realistic.
‘Because if you let the virus rip through the rest of the population it would inevitably find its way through to the elderly as well, and in much greater numbers.’
The PM has already warned that the new curbs could last well into 2021, and tonight he warned it could take until then to get mass testing up and running fully and a new vaccine widely available.
Photos of members of the cabinet and Dominic Cummings laughing was pasted together underneath a Conservatives logo and the caption: ‘It’s one rule for us, another for you plebs’
This poster mocked Mr Johnson’s latest phrase ‘a stitch in time, saves nine’ with other English proverbs including ‘what’s good for the goose is good for the gander’
The Devil Wears Prada’s Miranda Priestly’s famous quote ‘florals… in Spring… groundbreaking’ was rewritten in this amusing meme
A photo of Mr Johnson with the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg was posted underneath: ‘Look, if you resign now you can probably be doing panto by Christmas’
He said: ‘Though our doctors and our medical advisers are rightly worried about the data now, and the risks over winter, they are unanimous that things will be far better by the spring, when we have not only the hope of a vaccine, but one day soon – and I must stress that we are not there yet – of mass testing so efficient that people will be able to be tested in minutes so they can do more of the things they love.
‘That’s the hope; that’s the dream. It’s hard, but it’s attainable, and we are working as hard as we can to get there.’
He continued: ‘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.’
Earlier today he faced barbs for introducing other swingeing new measures including a 10pm pub curfew and £200 fines for mask rule-breakers among new restrictions on social settings in England in the face of a surge of new coronavirus infections sweeping the country.
However ministers have yet to reveal the full guidance for the public on the measures that are to be put in place.
Mr Johnson warned that that the curbs may have to be left in place for six months, potentially ruining families Christmases and New Year celebrations, and taking the total time spent under coronavirus restrictions of some kind up to a calendar year.
Others complained they had to wait for the end of the address before they could watch the Great British Bake Off
This poster shared an illustration of Boris Johnson with the caption ‘stay confused’ below a verse adapted from the popular song the Hockey Pokey
Some posted pictures of their pets watching the TV. One cat seemed engrossed while a dog seemed to be confused as it looked around towards its owner
The 10pm curfew on the hospitality sector sparked an immediate industry backlash as the UKHospitality group said it was ‘another crushing blow’
Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: ‘It is hard to understand how these measures are the solution to fighting the disease when Government data shows that just five per cent of infections out of the home are related to hospitality.’
At the same time Tory MPs warned there must not be another ‘major lockdown’. They said the decision to ditch the back to work drive will cause widespread ‘dismay’ among workers who live in ‘cramped, overcrowded accommodation’.
They also warned their constituents would be furious at the new crackdown after they followed the Government’s rules only to have seen ‘people at protests, at street parties, not having action taken against them’.
Meanwhile Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned Mr Johnson that his actions did not go far enough as she banned her countrymen from visiting each other in their own homes in a bid to slash to Covid-19 R rate in Scotland.
Boris Johnson announced today that pubs and restaurants in England will be subject to a 10pm curfew from Thursday
Public Health England data reveals that of the 729 outbreaks in the week to September 13, only five per cent occurred in food outlets such as restaurants and pubs
Mr Johnson said the UK is at a ‘perilous turning point’ in the fight against the virus. He imposed a 10pm curfew on all restaurants, bars and pubs across England from Thursday with the hospitality sector also being restricted to table service only.
A requirement to wear face coverings will be extended to include retail workers and customers in indoor hospitality settings, except for when they are seated at a table to eat or drink.
Dash to the altar this weekend! Hammer blow for couples tying the knot as wedding guests will be limited to 15 from Monday under new Covid rules
Wedding ceremonies and receptions in England are to be capped at 15 people, as part of new coronavirus restrictions to curb a surge in cases.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the number of people permitted at wedding celebrations is to be halved.
But he added that funeral services would be exempt from the restrictions, with the maximum number of mourners remaining at 30.
Celebrations held this weekend will narrowly avoid the new restrictions, which come into effect in England on Monday.
Setting out the measures in the House of Commons, Mr Johnson said: ‘Fifth, now is the time to tighten up the rule of six.
‘I’m afraid that from Monday a maximum of 15 people will be able to attend wedding ceremonies and receptions, though up to 30 can still attend a funeral as now.’
Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions were included in a list of exemptions to the ban on social gatherings of more than six, with up to 30 people, including the couple, allowed to attend.
Funeral services remain exempt from the rule of six, unless specified in areas with local lockdown restrictions.
A maximum of 30 people are allowed to attend a funeral in England and Wales, while no more than 20 are permitted in Scotland.
But the ban on gatherings of more than six applies to wakes or receptions held in private homes or gardens in England, unless those attending are all from the same household or support bubble.
He also announced the end of the Government’s back to work drive as he said he is now ‘asking office workers who can work from home to do so’.
The Government has been actively encouraging workers to ditch working from home and today’s U-turn represents a humiliating climbdown for the PM who earlier this month had told his Cabinet that ‘people are going back to the office in huge numbers across our country and quite right too’.
The decision to urge workers to work from home sparked dire warnings about the future of struggling town and city centres as business groups immediately demanded the Government extend its furlough scheme which is due to close at the end of October.
Mel Stride, the Tory chairman of the Commons Treasury Committee, told the PM that lockdowns ‘destroy jobs and also personal wellbeing’ as he urged the Government to pay attention to the concerns of businesses.
He said: ‘The fact the lockdowns have damaged our national economy means that in the years ahead a smaller economy will probably have serious impacts on the health of millions of people up and down our country.’
He added: ‘Yes, we should listen very carefully to the epidemiologists but we must also listen very carefully to the Treasury, to businesses and to economists too.’
Mr Johnson today announced he is making the Army available to help the police enforce stringent new coronavirus rules. The Prime Minister said the police will now have the ‘option to draw on military support where required’ to free up officers so more can go out and crackdown on rule-breakers as he revealed fines are being doubled to £200.
Downing Street ruled out deploying soldiers on the streets however, saying they would be used ‘backfilling certain duties, such as office roles and guarding protected sites, so police officers can be out enforcing the virus response’.
The PM also said that if the new plans fail to get the disease under control he ‘reserves the right to deploy greater fire power’.
Plans for a partial return of sports fans to stadiums from October 1 have also been ‘paused’ while the number of people allowed to attend weddings is being reduced to 15 from Monday. Exemptions to the rule of six are also being reduced, banning indoor team sport such as five-a-side football matches.
Mr Johnson did not announce a ban on households mixing indoors in England but Nicola Sturgeon this afternoon followed Northern Ireland as she said that from tomorrow Scots will not be able to meet in other people’s homes, prompting questions over which of the home nations has adopted the correct approach.
‘Six months’ of curbs at a glance
- All pubs, bars and restaurants in England will be subject to a 10pm curfew from Thursday, with the PM adamant that premises must kick out all of their customers by the cut off point.
- The Hospitality sector will also be restricted to table service only as the Government outlawed drinkers making a trip to the bar.
- All retail workers and customers in indoor hospitality settings will be required to wear masks – except when they are seated to eat or drink.
- All workers who can work from home are now being encouraged to do so from tomorrow.
- Fines for breaking the rule of six and for failing to wear a face covering are increasing to £200 for a first offence.
- The police will now have the option of asking the military for support with soldiers potentially being drafted in to fulfil office roles and guard protected sites in order to allow officers more time to crackdown on rule-breakers.
- The number of people allowed to attend weddings in England is being slashed to 15 from Monday but the number of people allowed to attend a funeral will remain at 30.
- Plans for the partial return of sports fans to stadiums on October 1 has been paused.
- Rule of six exemptions are being tightened to ban indoor team sports like five-a-side-football matches.
Some experts have already warned the PM’s curfew does not go far enough after Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said yesterday the UK could hit 50,000 cases a day by mid-October and 200 plus daily deaths by November unless Britain changes course.
Calum Semple, a professor of Child Health and Outbreak Medicine at the University of Liverpool and a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said there are ‘several sectors of society which will need to increase their restrictions unfortunately’.
It was claimed overnight that Mr Johnson had initially backed a total shutdown of the hospitality and leisure sectors before Chancellor Rishi Sunak persuaded him to take a less severe course after warning of economic carnage.
Setting out his proposals to MPs in the House of Commons this lunchtime, Mr Johnson said the UK is at a ‘perilous turning point’ amid a surge in infections across the country.
He said: ‘This is the moment when we must act.
‘If we can curb the number of daily infections and reduce the reproduction rate to one then we can save lives, protect the NHS and the most vulnerable and shelter the economy from the far sterner and more costly measures that would inevitably become necessary later on.’
Mr Gove confirmed the shift on working from home this morning, telling Sky News: ‘There is going to be a shift in emphasis and one of the things that we are going to emphasise is if it is possible for people to work from home then we would encourage them to do so.
‘Now, it is important to stress there are many, many, many roles which can’t be performed from home.
‘There are people in manufacturing, in construction, in retail and in other roles where we recognise that is simply impossible and that is why we have worked to make sure you can have Covid-secure workplaces and we need to balance, obviously, the need to ensure that people can continue to work and indeed critically continue to go to school and to benefit from education against taking steps to try to reduce the virus which is why we can limit or appropriately restrain social contact, that is what we are trying to do.’
He also said plans for a partial return of sports fans to stadiums from October 1 have been ‘paused’.
Michael Gove today confirmed the Government is ditching its back to work drive as he said people who can work from home should now do so
The decision to ditch the back to work drive represents a damaging moment for Mr Johnson who has been actively encouraging workers to go back to their offices. A London Underground train is pictured this morning
THIRTY TWO academics urge Boris Johnson to think twice about plunging Britain into a second lockdown – as questions mount about advisors’ doomsday numbers
A group of scientists and doctors have written to the Prime Minister urging him not to opt for a second lockdown and to stop presenting Covid-19 as a mortal danger.
Thirty-two top academics have called on Boris Johnson and his scientific and medical advisers to avoid a knee-jerk reaction to rising cases and hospitalisations.
They said the debate about coronavirus is ‘unhelpful’ because it is divided between people who want total lockdowns and people who want no restrictions at all.
Calling for decision-makers to ‘step back’ and think carefully about what to do next, the researchers said there had not yet been any ‘readily observable pattern’ between tight social distancing rules and the numbers of people dying of coronavirus.
The open letter was written by Oxford’s Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Carl Heneghan, by the University of Buckingham’s Professor Karol Sikora, and by Sam Williams, director of the consultancy firm Economic Insight.
Tweeting a copy of the letter today, cancer doctor Professor Sikora pleaded: ‘We desperately need a rethink to find a better balance’.
It comes amid fierce criticism from experts of the Government’s top scientists after they presented a ‘doomsday’ scenario of 50,000 daily coronavirus cases within a month – which appeared not to be backed by data from France and Spain.
‘It is the case that we’ve been piloting some open air venues, and we do want to be able in due course to allow people to return to watch football and other sporting events,’ he told BBC Breakfast.
‘But it is the case that we just need to be cautious at the moment and I think a mass reopening at this stage wouldn’t be appropriate.’
He added: ‘It was the case that we were looking at a staged programme of more people returning – it wasn’t going to be the case that we were going to have stadiums thronged with fans.
‘We’re looking at how we can, for the moment, pause that programme. But what we do want to do is to make sure that as and when circumstances allow, (we) get more people back.’
Mr Gove was unable to say how long the Government’s new coronavirus measures are expected to last.
‘What we hope is we can take appropriate steps now, which mean that if we succeed in beating back the virus, then we will in the future be able to progressively relax them,’ he told BBC Breakfast.
‘But what I can’t do is predict with absolute certainty.’
Pressed on whether it would be months or weeks, Mr Gove said: ‘It is the case, as Professor Vallance and Chris Whitty pointed out yesterday, that we’re going to have a challenging next six months.’
Mr Gove insisted the Government was taking ‘reluctant steps’ with the new coronavirus measures, but added that they are ‘absolutely necessary’.
‘There will be more details that the Prime Minister will spell out, and again, one of the points that he’ll make is that no one wants to do these things, no one wants to take these steps,’ he told Sky News.
‘They are reluctant steps that we’re taking, but they are absolutely necessary.
‘Because as we were reminded yesterday, and as you’ve been reporting, the rate of infection is increasing, the number of people going to hospital is increasing, and therefore we need to act.’
He insisted there is evidence to support the Government’s decision to set the curfew on pubs and restaurants at 10pm.
He told the BBC: ‘There is evidence that the longer venues stay open, the greater degree of social mixing that takes place.
‘So, placing a restriction like this is something that we’ve already done in parts of the country where the virus has been spreading particularly fast.’
Official Downing Street slides showed that if the current rate of infection continues there could be 50,000 coronavirus cases every day by the middle of October and that could lead to 200 plus deaths a day by the middle of November
Boris Johnson’s coronavirus lockdown statement in full
Mr Speaker, with your permission, I will make a statement on our response to the rising number of Coronavirus cases and how we must act now to avoid still graver consequences later on.
At every stage in this pandemic we have struck a delicate balance between saving lives by protecting our NHS and minimising the wider impact of our restrictions.
And it is because of the common sense and fortitude of the British people that earlier this year we were able to avert an even worse catastrophe, forming a human shield around our NHS, and then by getting our country moving again by reopening key sectors of our economy and returning children to school.
But we always knew that while we might have driven the virus into retreat, the prospect of a second wave was real.
And I am sorry to say that – as in Spain and France and many other countries – we have reached a perilous turning point.
A month ago, on average around a thousand people across the UK were testing positive for Coronavirus every day.
The latest figure has almost quadrupled to 3,929.
Yesterday the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser warned that the doubling rate for new cases could be between seven and 20 days with the possibility of tens of thousands of new infections next month.
I wish I could reassure the House that the growing number of cases is merely a function of more testing, but a rising proportion of the tests themselves are yielding a positive result.
I also wish I could say that more of our people now have the antibodies to keep the virus off, but the latest data suggest that fewer than 8 per cent of us are in this position.
It is true that the number of new cases is growing fastest amongst those aged 20-29, but the evidence shows that the virus is spreading to other more vulnerable age groups, as we have seen in France and Spain where this has led to increased hospital admissions and, sadly, more deaths.
In the last fortnight, daily hospital admissions in England have more than doubled.
Tens of thousands of daily infections in October would, as night follows day, lead to hundreds of daily deaths in November and those numbers would continue to grow unless we act.
And as with all respiratory viruses, Covid is likely to spread faster as autumn becomes winter.
Yesterday, on the advice of the four Chief Medical Officers, the UK’s Covid alert level was raised from 3 to 4, the second most serious stage, meaning that transmission is high or rising exponentially.
So this is the moment when we must act.
If we can curb the number of daily infections, and reduce the Reproduction rate to 1, then we can save lives, protect the NHS, and the most vulnerable, and shelter the economy from the far sterner and more costly measures that would inevitably become necessary later.
So we are acting on the principle that a stitch in time saves nine.
The Government will introduce new restrictions in England, carefully judged to achieve the maximum reduction in the R number with the minimum damage to lives and livelihoods.
I want to stress that this is by no means a return to the full lockdown of March. We are not issuing a general instruction to stay at home.
We will ensure that schools, colleges and universities stay open – because nothing is more important than the education, health and well-being of our young people. We will ensure that businesses can stay open in a Covid-compliant way.
However, we must take action to suppress the disease.
First, we are once again asking office workers who can work from home to do so.
In key public services – and in all professions where homeworking is not possible, such as construction or retail – people should continue to attend their workplaces.
And like Government, this House will be free to take forward its business in a Covid-secure way which you, Mr Speaker, have pioneered.
Second, from Thursday all pubs, bars and restaurants must operate table-service only, Mr Speaker, except for takeaways.
Together with all hospitality venues, they must close at 10pm.
To help the police to enforce this rule, I am afraid that means alas closing, and not just calling for last orders. Simplicity is paramount.
The same will apply to takeaways – though deliveries can continue thereafter.
I am sorry this will hurt many businesses just getting back on their feet, but we must act to stop the virus from being transmitted in bars and restaurants.
Third, we will extend the requirement to wear face coverings to include staff in retail, all users of taxis and private hire vehicles, and staff and customers in indoor hospitality, except when seated at a table to eat or drink.
Fourth, in retail, leisure, tourism and other sectors, our Covid-secure guidelines will become legal obligations.
Businesses will be fined and could be closed if they breach these rules.
Fifth, now is the time to tighten up the rule of six.
I’m afraid that from Monday, a maximum of 15 people will be able to attend wedding ceremonies and receptions.
Though, up to 30 can still attend a funeral as now.
We will also have to extend the rule of six to all adult indoor team sports.
Finally, we have to acknowledge that the spread of the virus is now affecting our ability to reopen business conferences, exhibitions and large sporting events so we will not be able to do this from 1 October.
And I recognise the implications for our sports clubs, which are the life and soul of our communities, and my RH Friends the Chancellor and Culture Secretary are working urgently on what we can do now to support them.
Mr Speaker, these rules measures will only work if people comply.
There is nothing more frustrating for the vast majority, the law-abiding majority that do comply than the sight of a few brazenly defying the rules. So these rules will be enforced by tighter penalties.
We have already introduced a fine of up to £10,000 for those who fail to self-isolate and such fines will now be applied to businesses breaking Covid rules.
The penalty for failing to wear a mask or breaking the rule of six will now double to £200 for a first offence.
We will provide the police and local authorities with the extra funding they need, a greater police presence on our streets, and the option to draw on military support where required to free up the police.
The measures I have announced all apply in England and the Devolved Administrations are taking similar steps.
I spoke yesterday with each of the First Ministers and again today and I thank them for their collaboration: the health of everyone in these islands depends on our common success.
Already about 13 million people across England are living under various local restrictions, over and above national measures.
We will continue to act against local flare-ups, working alongside councils and strengthening measures where necessary.
And I want to speak directly to those who were shielding early in the pandemic and may be anxious about being at greater risk.
Following advice from our senior clinicians, our guidance continues to be that you do not need to shield – except in local lockdown areas – and we will keep this under constant review.
I must emphasise that if all our actions fail to bring the R below 1, then we reserve the right to deploy greater firepower, with significantly greater restrictions.
I fervently want to avoid taking this step, as do the Devolved Administrations, but we will only be able to avoid it if our new measures work and our behaviour changes.
Mr Speaker, we will spare no effort in developing vaccines, treatments and new forms of mass-testing but unless we palpably make progress, we should assume that the restrictions I have announced will remain in place for perhaps six months.
For the time being, this virus is a fact of our lives and I must tell the House and the country that our fight against it will continue.
We will not listen to those who say let the virus rip; nor to those who urge a permanent lockdown; we are taking decisive and appropriate steps to balance saving lives with protecting jobs and livelihoods.
I know all of this will have profound consequences for our constituents, so the government will give the House every opportunity to scrutinise our decisions.
In addition to regular statements and debates, Hon Members will be able to question the government’s scientific advisers more regularly, gain access to data about their constituencies, your constituencies and join daily calls with my RH Friend the Paymaster General.
After six months of restrictions, it would be tempting to hope that the threat has faded, and seek comfort in the belief that if you have avoided the virus so far then you are somehow immune.
I have to say that it is that kind of complacency that could be our undoing.
If we fail to act together now we will not only place others at risk but jeopardise our own futures with the more drastic action that we would inevitably be forced to take.
Mr Speaker, no British government would wish to stifle our freedoms in the ways that we have found necessary this year.
Yet even now we can draw some comfort from the fact that schools and universities and places of worship are staying open, shops can serve their customers, construction workers can go to building sites, and the vast majority of the UK economy can continue moving forwards.
We are also, Mr Speaker, better prepared for a second wave, with the ventilators, the PPE, the dexamethasone, the Nightingale Hospitals, and a hundred times as much testing.
So now it falls to each of us and every one of us to remember the basics – wash our hands, cover our faces, observe social distancing – and follow the rules.
Then we can fight back against this virus, shelter our economy from even greater damage, protect the most vulnerable in care homes and hospitals, safeguard our NHS and save many more lives.
And I commend this statement to the House.