Last night, Boris Johnson addressed the UK. And no one understood anything he said.

On Sunday evening (Monday morning AEST), UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson sat down to address the British public.

It was a highly anticipated address, setting out his government’s next steps in the coronavirus pandemic.

Then he started… talking. For 14 whole minutes, and at the end, people were even less sure about how it was going than they were before.

Watch: Boris Johnson’s address. Post continues below video.

Johnson urged the country to take its first tentative steps out of strict lockdown this week, but his message was criticised as being divisive, confusing and vague.

The most immediate change was Johnson’s plea to those who cannot work from home – like those in construction and manufacturing – saying they “should be actively encouraged to go to work”.

But he stated those going back to work should avoid public transport, and instead go by car, “or even better by walking or bicycle”.

He indicated schools in England would open for year one and year six as early as June 1, but said restaurants and cafes would remain closed until at least July. The classic British pub, situated on almost every street, had no indication of when they could open.

English residents could now enjoy unlimited exercise, and sunbathe in the park if they practice social distancing. They can play sport too, but only with members of their household.

Johnson also updated his government’s COVID-19 slogan from “Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives” to “Stay alert to control the virus and save lives”.

Leaders of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland distanced themselves from Johnson’s address. Although he is the British leader, his announcement only really applied to England as the other three nations’ leaders are in charge of their coronavirus roadmaps.

Boris Johnson died
Johnson himself was admitted to hospital with coronavirus in March. Image: Getty.

Scotland's first minister Nicole Sturgeon was among those to slam the slogan change, calling it "vague and imprecise", and saying Scotland would continue to advise residents to stay home.

She told BBC Scotland Johnson needed to be much clearer that his proposed easing of the lockdown only related to England.

"[It] is incumbent on him, maybe a bit more strongly than he did tonight, to stress that when he’s talking about lifting these restrictions, he’s talking for England. We really have such a duty just now to be as clear as possible."

Northern Ireland first minister Arlene Foster reiterated she would stick with the "stay home" messaging too.

The Welsh first minister, Mark Drakeford, shared a similar sentiment.

"Two weeks ago, I published a framework to lead Wales out of the pandemic. This has helped us decide that schools will not return to normal on 1 June. We will continue to make decisions which are right for Wales, using information and expert advice about how coronavirus is circulating here to keep us safe."

And it's not just the other British nations that are confused.

London's mayor Sadiq Khan urged Londoners to stay home.

"Lockdown hasn't been lifted and we all still need to play our part in stopping the spread of COVID-19. You must still stay at home as much as possible and keep a safe two-metre distance from other people at all times when you are out," he said in a statement.

The CEO of the London Chamber of Commerce Richard Burge went even further, saying it would be "foolish" for businesses to return to work tomorrow.


"Having heard the prime minister this evening, my strong and unequivocal advice to London businesses is not to change your plans for tomorrow. You have not been given sufficient information on how to get your employees safely to work, nor how to keep them safe while they are there," he said.

It is feared the dropping of the "stay at home" message will cause confusion, making the restrictions "unpoliceable", senior police sources told The Guardian.

And then there is the public, whose response is perhaps best summed up below.








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Feature image: Getty.