Coronavirus: Boris Johnson's father says he will ignore government public health advice and still go to pub

Stanley Johnson's comments came less than 24 hours after his son urged British public to 'avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other social venues'

Conrad Duncan,Lizzy Buchan
Tuesday 17 March 2020 18:57 GMT
Boris Johnson's father says he will go to the pub despite coronavirus warnings

Boris Johnson’s father has said he will still go to the pub despite official government advice to avoid non-essential contact due to the coronavirus pandemic.

His comments came less than a day after his son, the prime minister, urged the British public to “avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and other such social venues” to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Stanley Johnson’s refusal to follow the warning was especially notable as the government said its advice was particularly important for people over the age of 70 and Mr Johnson is 79.

On ITV’s This Morning, presenter Philip Schofield asked the prime minister's father if he would still go to the pub despite his son’s advice.

“Of course, I’ll go to a pub if I need to go to a pub,” Mr Johnson replied.

“He [the prime minister] said we should avoid going to pubs, but if I had to go to a pub, I’d go to a pub,” he added, before receiving an incredulous response from the This Morning presenters.

The author and former politician then went on to say landlords who run pubs “don’t want people to be not in [them] at all”.

The prime minister side-stepped questions on his father's attitude during a Downing Street press conference on Tuesday.

He said: "Of course the buck stops with me and I take full responsibility for all the actions this government is taking, all the decisions we are taking, difficult though many of them are, and all the advice we are giving to everybody.

"What I'd say to people to people thinking about this advice, the more we follow the advice of our scientific and medical advisers, the more closely we do what they tell us to do, the better our chances collectively of slowing the disease, of protecting the NHS and saving life."

The prime minister added: "Of course people care about pubs and they are right to care about pubs and restaurants, but that is why we are announcing the extraordinary package that Rishi has unveiled today."

It comes after the government unveiled unprecedented peacetime measures for its response to Covid-19 and called on the public to avoid all nonessential contact and travel.

Stanley Johnson’s comments came as the pub industry voiced concern that the measures would result in mass job losses and permanent closures.

Speaking ahead of chancellor Rishi Sunak's announcement of a £330bn fund of loans for struggling businesses, Mr Johnson suggested on Tuesday that his son’s government would produce a major financial package to support firms hurt by social distancing.

"The big picture is we are going to get on top of this, we're going to make sure that the National Health Services are not overwhelmed in terms of the people it has in intensive care,” Mr Johnson said.

“Look at what's already happened, the fact the prime minister made the speech he made yesterday has already had the effect of emptying the streets, emptying the pubs, emptying the theatres, and yes, the government will come through with a package of measures to compensate those people - I'm sure it will - this afternoon the chancellor will say something, so I think we're on the right track.”

He also suggested the government could introduce measures similar to the kind announced by Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, to support citizens and businesses during the pandemic.

Mr Macron said on Tuesday that rents and utility bills would be suspended for small businesses to help them weather the negative economic impact of the measures.

Additional reporting by PA

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