Boris Johnson's speech in full on his return to 10 Downing Street

In his first speech on Downing Street since he was hospitalised with coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson thanked those who had “stepped up” in his absence, but warned that the UK is still at the point of "maximum risk".

Boris Johnson's speech in full:

Mr Johnson started by saying he had been “away from my desk for much longer than I would’ve liked”.

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He continued: “Once again I want to thank you the people of this country for the sheer grit and guts you’ve shown and are continuing to show.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a statement outside 10 Downing Street, London, as he resumes working after spending two weeks recovering from Covid-19.

“Every day I know that this virus brings new sadness and mourning to households across the land.”

“It is still true that this is the biggest single challenge this country has faced since the war and I in no way minimise the continuing problems we face.

“And yet it is also true that we are making progress with fewer hospital admissions, fewer Covid patients in ICU and real signs now that we are passing through the peak.

“And thanks to your forbearance, your good sense your altruism, your spirit of community, thanks to our collective national resolve, we are on the brink of achieving that first clear mission to prevent our National Health Service from being overwhelmed in a way that tragically we have seen elsewhere.

“And that is how and why we are now beginning to turn the tide.”

“If this virus were a physical assailant, an unexpected and invisible mugger – which I can tell you from personal experience, it is – then this is the moment when we have begun together to wrestle it to the floor.

“And so it follows that this is the moment of opportunity, this is the moment when we can press home our advantage, it is also the moment of maximum risk.

“I know there will be many people looking at our apparent success, and beginning to wonder whether now is the time to go easy on those social distancing measures.”

Mr Johnson said he understood “how hard and stressful it has been to give up, even temporarily, those ancient and basic freedoms”.

But the Prime Minister went on to warn that the potential of a second spike in cases risked “economic disaster”.

“And so I know it is tough. And I want to get this economy moving as fast as I can, but I refuse to throw away all the effort and the sacrifice of the British people and to risk a second major outbreak and huge loss of life and the overwhelming of the NHS.

“And I ask you to contain your impatience, because I believe we are coming now to the end of the first phase of this conflict and in spite of all the suffering we have so nearly succeeded.

“We defied so many predictions. We did not run out of ventilators or ICU beds. We did not allow our NHS to collapse, and on the contrary we have so far collectively shielded our NHS so that our incredible doctors and nurses and healthcare staff have been able to shield all of us from an outbreak that would have been far worse and we collectively flattened the peak.”

“And so when we are sure that this first phase is over and that we are meeting our five tests: deaths falling, NHS protected, rate of infection down, really sorting out the challenges of testing and PPE, avoiding a second peak, then that will be the time to move on to the second phase in which we continue to suppress the disease and keep the reproduction rate – the R rate – down, but begin gradually to refine the economic and social restrictions and one-by-one to fire up the engines of this vast UK economy.

“And in that process difficult judgements will be made and we simply cannot spell out now how fast or slow or even when those changes will be made, though clearly the Government will be saying much more about this in the coming days.”

In terms of discussions about changes to restrictions, Mr Johnson said: “We will also be reaching out to build the biggest possible consensus across business, across industry, across all parts of our United Kingdom, across party lines, bringing in opposition parties as far as we possibly can.

“I think that’s no less than what the British people would expect.

“If we as a country can show the same spirit of optimism and energy shown by Captain Tom Moore who turns 100 this week.

“If we can show the same spirit of unity and determination as we have all shown in past six weeks, I have absolutely no doubt that we will beat it, together we will come through this all the faster and the United Kingdom will emerge stronger than ever before.”

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