Downing Street televised daily coronavirus briefings will no longer be held on weekends due to ‘low TV ratings’.
While the government is ‘absolutely committed’ to keeping the country updated, press conferences will take place on weekdays only as Saturdays and Sunday viewing numbers tend to be ‘significantly lower’, Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said today.
The prime minister will lead at least one of the five briefings alongside scientific and medical experts, although it is possible he will do more.
Government ministers will be responsible for addressing the country throughout the rest of the week, as UK’s official daily death toll continues to fall.
Speaking at a Westminster briefing today, Mr Johnson’s official spokesman said: ‘From this week, the press conferences will be on weekdays only – so no longer on Saturdays and Sundays.
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‘The PM will take a press conference every week alongside… the scientific and medical experts.
‘Others will be led by secretaries of state, alongside scientific and medical experts where relevant.’
Asked why the change was being made, the spokesman said: ‘It is just a fact that the numbers who are viewing at weekends do tend to be significantly lower.’
‘The PM will do a press conference every week, it’s possible he could do more.
‘We are absolutely committed to keeping people updated, we will be continuing to do this through regular press conferences. media interviews and parliamentary updates.’
The government’s press conferences have taken place every day for more than two months now, having begun on March 16.
Monday’s briefing saw Matt Hancock warn that the ‘disease is not done yet’, as lockdown restrictions were eased in England.
Groups of up to six people are now able to exercise together outdoors as long as they observe social distancing rules – but the health secretary said a national blanket lockdown could be reimposed if ‘necessary’.
It comes as Public Health England confirms that Black, Asian and minority ethnic people are ‘at much greater risk’ of losing their lives to coronavirus than white people.
A PHE review found that people of Bangladeshi ethnicity had around twice the risk of death than people of white British ethnicity, while people of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, other Asian, Caribbean and Black ethnicity had between 10% and 50% higher risk of death.
The report, titled Disparities in the risk and outcomes of COVID-19, calls for all future policies, guidance, recording and reporting of data to ‘recognise’ and ‘reduce the impact’ of coronavirus on BAME groups.
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