Downing Street will no longer hold daily press briefings, the government announced today, as England begins to emerge from months of lockdown ahead of a nationwide relaxation of social distancing rules.
Number 10 said that this evening’s 5pm news conference will be the last to be held on a daily basis, as the rate of infection continues to drop and Britain starts to recover from the pandemic.
“We’ll continue to hold press conferences to coincide with significant announcements, including with the Prime Minister,” Number 10 said in a statement.
“We will be publishing all of the data which has previously been included in the press conference slides on gov.uk every weekday.”
The government’s daily press briefings have been held every day since 16 March — the week before the UK went into lockdown — until 5 June, when the weekend press briefings were scrapped. Number 10 said the decision to axe Saturday and Sunday briefings was made because viewing figures had dropped.
The daily briefings have allowed journalists and members of the public to scrutinise government in lieu of an active parliament.
More than 27.5m people tuned into Boris Johnson’s lockdown announcement on 23 March, surpassing the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony and the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton to become one of the most-watched TV slots of all time in the UK.
The PM is expected to give more details at tonight’s press briefing, where he will expand on new social distancing measures set out at lunchtime.
Johnson announced earlier that England’s two-metre rule will be reduced to new one metre-plus guidelines, as the country’s “long national hibernation is beginning to come to an end”.