- ‘So we are saying don’t go to work, go to work.’
The internet mockery of Boris Johnson’s coronavirus speech last night has been savage – but gay comic Matt Lucas has won the prize.
The 46-year-old, best known for his roles in Little Britain and Doctor Who, posted a video where he gave his version of Johnson’s speech.
The UK prime minister went on TV yesterday evening to reveal the next stage in Britain’s coronavirus response.
But his messaging left the public confused, many experts concerned and Britain’s other political leaders in open rebellion. It came as some businesses pressure the UK to lift restrictions despite the fact the country now has the highest COVID-19 death toll in Europe.
Lucas summed it up with his own version, delivered with perfect Boris Johnson bluster. He said:
‘So we are saying don’t go to work, go to work. Don’t take public transport, don’t go to work. Stay indoors, if you work from home go to work, don’t go to work.
‘Go outside, don’t go outside. And then we will or won’t something or other.’
Lacking ‘clarity and consensus’
In the official speech, which you can read or watch in full here, Johnson told the country:
‘We said that you should work from home if you can, and only go to work if you must. We now need to stress that anyone who can’t work from home, for instance those in construction or manufacturing, should be actively encouraged to go to work.
‘And we want it to be safe for you to get to work. So you should avoid public transport if at all possible – because we must and will maintain social distancing, and capacity will therefore be limited.
‘So work from home if you can, but you should go to work if you can’t work from home. And to ensure you are safe at work we have been working to establish new guidance for employers to make workplaces Covid-secure.
‘And when you do go to work, if possible do so by car or even better by walking or bicycle. But just as with workplaces, public transport operators will also be following Covid-secure standards.’
The speech was sufficiently controversial that the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have all said their rules haven’t changed and urged people to simply ‘Stay at Home’.
Indeed, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon criticized Johnson for not saying ‘more strongly’ that the changes in his speech only apply to England.
Meanwhile Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said Johnson’s speech lacked ‘clarity and consensus’. And union leaders expressed concern about the health of their staff.
People have also mocked the UK government’s new messaging about the virus. It has replaced ‘Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives’ with ‘Stay alert. Control the virus. Save lives.’
But many have questioned how ordinary members of the public can ‘stay alert’ to an invisible virus. Moreover, they fear the new messaging is a license for people to do as they wish, whatever the health cost may be to others.