May 10, 2020 / 10:00 PM / 19 days ago

Factbox: Reaction to UK PM Johnson statement on gradually easing coronavirus lockdown

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday the coronavirus lockdown will not end yet, urging people to “stay alert” as he outlined plans to begin slowly easing measures that have closed down much of the economy for nearly seven weeks.

Below is some reaction to his televised statement:

CAROLYN FAIRBAIRN, DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE CBI, BRITAIN’S BIGGEST BUSINESS LOBBY GROUP:

“Today marks the first glimmer of light for our faltering economy. A phased and careful return to work is the only way to protect jobs and pay for future public services. The prime minister has set out the first steps for how this can happen.”

“Businesses are keen to open and get our economy back on its feet. But they also know putting health first is the only sustainable route to economic recovery. The message of continued vigilance is right.”

ADAM MARSHALL, DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE BRITISH CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE:

“Businesses will need to see detailed plans for the phased easing of restrictions, coordinated with all nations across the UK and supported by clear guidance. It is imperative that companies have detailed advice on what will need to change in the workplace, including clarity on the use of PPE.”

“Firms will also need to know that government support schemes, which have helped save millions of jobs in recent weeks, will continue for as long as they are needed so that they can plan ahead with confidence.”

JONATHAN GELDART, DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE INSTITUTE OF DIRECTORS:

“As the Government begins to ask more people to return to work, it’s vital that the guidance is clear so that companies can plan how to return safely. As people with ultimate legal responsibility, directors need to have confidence that it’s safe, and that if they act responsibly they won’t be at undue risk. Businesses should consult with their people to put in place robust policies, which in many cases might not be an overnight process.”

KEIR STARMER, OPPOSITION LABOUR PARTY LEADER:

“This statement raises more questions than it answers, and we see the prospect of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland pulling in different directions.”

“The prime minister appears to be effectively telling millions of people to go back to work without a clear plan for safety or clear guidance as to how to get there without using public transport.”

“What the country wanted tonight was clarity and consensus, but we haven’t got either of those.”

ED DAVEY, ACTING LEADER OF THE LIBERAL DEMOCRATS:

“People across the UK have made enormous personal sacrifices to slow the spread of COVID-19, protect others and protect our NHS and care services. Millions of people have put their lives on hold, are in isolation and face losing their livelihoods.”

“So I don’t understand why the government has changed its messaging at this critical stage. It risks what people have fought so hard for. The prime minister has not provided the country with any evidence or justification for this change. Instead, he risks creating more confusion than clarity by badly communicating his government’s plans.”

SADIQ KHAN, MAYOR OF LONDON:

“I urge the government to continue to work with employers, employees and trades unions to design a proper plan for how we can keep everyone safe as they return to work.”

“All Londoners must continue to abide by the rules, and stay home as much as possible, so that we can continue to save lives and protect the NHS (National Health Service).”

 

THE CONFEDERATION OF PASSENGER TRANSPORT, THE TRADE BODY FOR BUS AND COACH OPERATORS ACROSS BRITAIN:

“Buses are central to the economic and social recovery of the country and will also be vital in maintaining the cleaner air and reduced congestion we have seen over the last few weeks.”

“Bus operators will now be working with government and local authorities on a joint strategy to provide a more comprehensive network that will allow people get back to work safely. To help deliver this it will be important that when travelling people follow instructions on the availability of seats and when buses are full.”

PADDY LILLIS, GENERAL SECRETARY OF THE SHOPWORKERS’ TRADE UNION USDAW:

“We have emphasised safety first in all the discussions we’ve had with the Government. Non-food retail should only start trading again when expert public health advice agrees, but even then we must have a guarantee that the right policies and practices are in place to make workplaces safe.”

“We cannot afford to cut any corners. The last few weeks have laid bare the terrible damage this virus can wreak.”

EMMA MCCLARKIN, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF THE BRITISH BEER AND PUB ASSOCIATION:

“The industry was looking for a glimmer of hope today, a date to plan to and further financial support reassured, but it looks like we have more weeks of uncertainty ahead of us.”

“With insufficient clarity as to when pubs will reopen, our sector remains in limbo and facing severe uncertainty and financial devastation. If government plans to keep pubs closed until the final phase of release, as rumoured, this would make pubs first in and last out of lockdown.”

TIM ALDERSLADE, CEO OF INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION AIRLINES UK:

“Ministers are effectively telling people they can no longer travel for the foreseeable future and airlines will respond to that by grounding their operations – and that is why they require urgent additional government support to get through this growing crisis.”

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper, Editing by Kylie MacLellan

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