Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that the government will take “tougher measures” if UK residents do not stick to social distancing rules in public, aimed at fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
“The best thing that everybody can do, if you’re going outside, is observe social distancing. Stay two metres [over 6 feet] apart - it’s not such a difficult thing, do it”, Johnson told a news conference on Sunday.
When asked why the government has not yet tightened the screws after images of crowded parks recently emerged on the internet, he referred to “some very draconian steps” that have already been taken.
“We’ve closed the schools and a huge swath of the UK economy […] a huge quantity of our normal daily life has been transformed”, Johnson pointed out.
He said that people getting out and exercising is “very important” for their “mental and psychical well-being”, which is why “parks and open spaces are absolutely crucial”.
According to him, the “health benefits of keeping parks open outweigh the epidemiological value of closing them”.
Johnson said that at least 1.5 million people in the UK are currently facing the highest risk of being hospitalised due to the COVID-19 outbreak. In light of this, the country’s National Health Service (NHS) plans to address these people in the coming days and urge them to stay indoors and shun face-to-face contact for at least 12 weeks, he added.
The prime minister also said that with the spread of the virus showing no sign of abating, the UK will need “far more” ventilators in the near future despite that right now, Britain has a good supply of such equipment.
Johnson Announces Britain’s Coronavirus Battle Plan
A strategy of “social distancing” remains part and parcel of the UK’s coronavirus battle plan, which was announced by Johnson in early March. This stipulates people working from home, not travelling unnecessarily, or socialising in large numbers.
He said at the time that he fully understands public concern about "the global spread of the virus" and that “it is highly likely we will see a growing number of UK cases”.
“Keeping the UK safe is the government’s overriding priority. We will make sure the NHS gets all the support it needs. Our country remains extremely well prepared as it has been since the outbreak began several months ago”, he underscored.
According to the World Health Organisation’s latest estimates, Britain has 5,018 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with the death toll standing at 233.