Union Jack-backed Boris Johnson gives first press conference in new £2.6million briefing room

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Out with the old and in with the red, white and new! Boris Johnson backed by the Union Jack as he hosts his first press conference in Downing Street’s new £2.6million press briefing room to welcome the latest stage of lockdown lifting

  • Boris Johnson made his first appearance in Downing Street briefing room today
  • came on the day that a new wave of lockdown easements came into effect 
  • Look and layout of the new room has sparked comparisons with the White House

Boris Johnson swapped antique wood panelling for a Tory blue backdrop tonight as he hosted a coronavirus press conference from his new £2.6million briefing room.

The venue for the occasional television appearances has swapped from their former home in 10 Downing Street to a newly refurbished part of No9 after the taxpayer-funded work on kitting it out.

The look and layout of the new room has sparked comparisons with the press conference room used by US presidents in the White House.

And the difference with the previous location was quite clear. Though the Prime Minister was again flanked by a pair of Union Jacks, he entered stage left rather than walking up to the lectern from behind it.

And that lectern has been stripped the ‘Stay Home –  Protect the NHS – Save Lives’ guidance. As of today the stay at home guidance has been replaced by a plea to stay local.    

Ministers have signed off on a new ‘let’s take this next step safely’ slogan which will appear on Government adverts when the stay at home order is dropped from March 29, according to The Sun. 

The room will now be used for all future press briefings. Labour previously branded the hi-tech refurbishment a ‘vanity project’.

New: Mr Johnson  in front of flags and a cobalt blue backdrop in No9 Downing Street

New: Mr Johnson  in front of flags and a cobalt blue backdrop in No9 Downing Street

Old: the former wood-panelled briefing room in No10 Downing Street

Old: the former wood-panelled briefing room in No10 Downing Street

Mr Johnson's lectern has been stripped the 'Stay Home - Protect the NHS - Save Lives' guidance

Mr Johnson’s lectern has been stripped the ‘Stay Home – Protect the NHS – Save Lives’ guidance

Boris Johnson has said the new freedoms being enjoyed in England as lockdown eases were the result of the sacrifices made over recent months but warned it was ‘inevitable’ there were more deaths to come.

At a Downing Street press conference, he said it has been a ‘big day for many of us’ with the first chance to see friends and family outdoors since the lockdown was imposed.

‘It’s only because of months of sacrifice and effort that we can take this small step towards freedom today and we must proceed with caution,’ he said.

‘It’s great to see that yesterday we recorded the lowest number of new infections for six months, deaths and hospital admissions across the UK are continuing to fall.

‘That wave is still rising across the channel and it’s inevitable, as we advance on this road map, that there will be more infections and unavoidably more hospitalisations, and sadly more deaths.’

The new briefing room in Number Nine Downing Street has drawn comparisons with the daily press briefing room in the White House

The new briefing room in Number Nine Downing Street has drawn comparisons with the daily press briefing room in the White House

The new Number Nine Downing Street press briefing room in pictures released last week

The new Number Nine Downing Street press briefing room in pictures released last week

Mr Johnson said the Government will be saying more on travel abroad on April 5.

He said: ‘I think that the most important thing that we’ve got to do right now as we continue to immunise great numbers of people in this country is to protect our country insofar as we can, it’s never going to be perfect, but do as much as we can to prevent the virus coming back in from abroad and new variants coming in from abroad.

‘So, the rules about what you can do, what people can do, to see their families abroad will be governed entirely by the rules that cover travel abroad and people coming from abroad.

‘At the moment, as you know, it’s still forbidden to travel, we’ll be saying a bit more on April 5 about what the global travel taskforce has come up with.

‘Clearly, at the moment there are lots of countries that are on a red list, 35 countries are on a red list, where we have very stringent measures in place for them, for people arriving from those countries.’

He added: ‘We will be saying more about seeing family abroad and travel abroad, but it won’t be until at least April 5.’

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