Hard-hitting advert to air as pressure ramps up on public to obey lockdown

The public will be faced with a set of hard-hitting new adverts warning people to stay home as part of a change of tack in the bid to ensure people obey lockdown rules.

With close-ups of frontline medical practitioners and Covid-19 patients’ faces, the advert will ask: “Can you look them in the eyes and tell them you’re helping by staying at home?”

It comes after the UK on Wednesday reported a daily record number of deaths from the virus, with a further 1,820 people dying within 28 days of testing positive.

A further 1,401 people were declared dead on Friday using the same criteria, taking the total death toll to 95,981 since the epidemic started in the UK.

The television advert will air on ITV and Channel 4 on Friday evening and further advertising will run across radio, online and across social media from Saturday evening, the Government said.

A shift in tone from previous adverts will see footage and remarks broadcast from patients who have coronavirus, as well as the NHS staff who are looking after them at Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital.

The Government said that someone is currently admitted to hospital every 30 seconds with the virus, and a quarter of those are under the age of 55.

There are currently over 38,000 beds taken up in England by Covid patients.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The NHS is under intense pressure.

“They are relying on all of us to follow the rules.

“I know how long the last few months have felt, and I know the vast majority of people are following the rules, but we have come too far to let up now.

“Every day we are closer to beating this virus, and already over five million people across the UK have been vaccinated.

“But right now more than ever we need to stick together to protect our NHS and to keep saving lives.

“The message couldn’t be clearer – stay at home.”

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said: “The impact of the current wave is still putting significant pressure on hospitals across the country and many patients are very sick.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock
Health Secretary Matt Hancock

“Vaccines give clear hope for the future, but for now we must all continue to play our part in protecting the NHS and saving lives.”

Dr Emeka Okorocha, a A&E doctor at East London Hospitals, said: “The past year has been tough on everyone and I know that lockdown has been so frustrating for so many of us.

“However, life is really tough on the frontline at the moment, so ask yourself, is it worth breaking the rules to go and meet friends?

“Lives are being lost and the strain on my colleagues is clear.

“We’re all exhausted but we are still here fighting the good fight against this horrible disease.”