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Pooja versus the plumber: Solihull woman becomes hero of the lockdown briefing for asking Boris Johnson why he's been so 'vague' - but Ryan from Surrey says advice is 'not hard to understand'

Pooja versus the plumber: Solihull woman becomes hero of the lockdown briefing for asking Boris Johnson why he's been so 'vague' - but Ryan from Surrey says advice is 'not hard to understand'
  • Pooja Jalota, 40, of Solihull, tells PM he had left 'more questions than answers'
  • She asked him when we'll 'receive further clarity' on who can start back at work 
  • But plumber from Surrey tells C4 new advice is 'not really hard to understand'
  • Both of them attract acclaim of social media, with Ms Jalota labelled a 'hero'
A pharmacist from Solihull has become an internet sensation after questioning Boris Johnson on why new instructions on who could get to work are 'so vague'.
Pooja Jalota, 40, told the Prime Minister during a press conference yesterday that his address on Sunday had 'left the nation with more questions than answers'.
She recorded a video asking him when the British public will 'receive further clarity' on who can start back at work and which businesses can reopen this week.
But a plumber from Surrey also attracted acclaim on social media after saying in an interview that Boris Johnson's new advice was 'not really hard to understand'. 
Pooja Jalota, 40, of Solihull, told the Prime Minister during a press conference yesterday that his address on Sunday had 'left the nation with more questions than answers'
Pooja Jalota, 40, of Solihull, told the Prime Minister during a press conference yesterday that his address on Sunday had 'left the nation with more questions than answers'
Ms Jalota, a pharmacist from Solihull, has become an internet sensation after questioning Boris Johnson on why new instructions on who could get to work are 'so vague'
Ms Jalota, a pharmacist from Solihull, has become an internet sensation after questioning Boris Johnson on why new instructions on who could get to work are 'so vague'
Mr Johnson initially appeared rattled by Ms Jalota's 'excellent' question, saying 'we've had to make a big, big change in our lives over the last couple of months'.
Ms Jalota had said in her question: 'Good afternoon. Yesterday (Sunday) you left the nation with more questions than answers. When lockdown initially started you were very specific about what needed to shut down and when.

Full question from Pooja Jalota to the PM

'Good afternoon. 
'Yesterday you left the nation with more questions than answers. 
'When lockdown initially started you were very specific about what needed to shut down and when.
'Why are you being so vague with who can start back at work and which businesses can reopen this week. 
'When will the British public receive further clarity on this?'
'Why are you being so vague with who can start back at work and which businesses can reopen this week. When will the British public receive further clarity on this?' 
The Prime Minister said 'we've had to make a big, big change in our lives over the last couple of months' and pointed to the clarity of the old stay at home messaging.
He added: 'It's when you come to take small steps back to normality, as we are now, that clearly the message becomes finer, more complicated.'
He told the daily briefing: 'We're saying that if you can't work from home you should talk to your employer about getting back to work, but explained: 'We're insisting that it's got to be safe at work and safe to get there.'
Aside from some other small changes to exercise rules, Mr Johnson said: 'Things are pretty much as they have been and they will be until we start to make further progress driving down that R getting to steps 2 and 3.'

What 'Ryan the plumber' told Channel 4 News in an interview 

'Boris is sort of leaving it up to us a little bit to, you know, if you feel safe to do so then do it.
'It's not really hard to understand. 
'Be sensible in what you're doing and stay away - two metres apart when you can - wear your PPE if you're at work. 
'I'm not sure, what do you want? A full handbook to tell you what to do?' 
Also responding to her question, Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Chris Whitty said: 'When the regulations were first introduced firms and companies were divided into things that are essential - should keep operating - things like pharmacies, things like supermarkets, things that definitely should not, very explicitly, and some between where it was dependent on whether they could be made safe for work. Those three groups remain the same groups.'
Viewers commented on social media how Mr Johnson repeatedly referred to Ms Jalota's name, with others said she was their 'fave person'. One wrote: 'Boris Johnson absolutely LOVED Pooja's name' - and Ms Jalota replied: 'He certainly did.'
Another viewer made reference to the weekly Clap for Carers, saying: 'This Thursday can we all please clap for Pooja?' Ms Jalota replied: 'Thank you!'
And a further viewer tweeted: 'Pooja from Solihull, you are my hero. Thank you so much for putting the PM on the spot like this, asking the questions which many of us across the country want answers to.' 

Britain's new lockdown rules at a glance

  • Face coverings advised for people on public transport and in enclosed spaces 
  • Mixing in 'bubbles' of friends and family could start from next month
  • At the same time major sports could be played behind closed doors  
  • Those who can should continue to work from home 'for the foreseeable future'
  • People working in sectors including food production, construction, manufacturing, logistics, distribution and scientific research in laboratories should go back to work from Wednesday.
  • But 'hospitality and non-essential retail' businesses should remain closed
  • More key workers encouraged to send children to school 
  • Primary schools will start to get back up and running for reception, year 1 and year 6 in June, in small classes
  • Parents will not face fines for refusing to send their children. 
  • Majority of secondary schools will stay closed until September
  • Outdoor sports like tennis or golf allowed with one other person from another household

In a separate interview yesterday, Ryan Price, 31, a plumber from Surrey Heating Specialists in Ashford, told Channel 4 News: 'Boris is sort of leaving it up to us a little bit to, you know, if you feel safe to do so then do it.
'It's not really hard to understand. Be sensible in what you're doing and stay away - two metres apart when you can - wear your PPE if you're at work. I'm not sure, what do you want? A full handbook to tell you what to do?' 
People on Twitter praised him for 'speaking sense', while another said: 'Supposedly intelligent people are seriously struggling with basic advice.'
But a third added: 'If I want someone to unclog my toilet or fix my pipes, I'll call a plumber. When I want advice on how to work safely during a pandemic, I won't call a f***ing plumber. 
'I want clear advice from epidemioligsts. A full handbook would be great. Should be mandatory.'
Ryan's nickname is reminscient of Joe Wurzelbacher, known as Joe the Plumber, who was regularly referred to during the 2008 US presidential election after he gained fame by asking Barack Obama about his small business tax policy in Ohio.
It comes as Mr Johnson was confronted with public frustration over his lockdown exit strategy tonight as he tried to explain how they will work in detail - and why families still cannot be reunited.
As Britons tried to make sense of the new rules, the PM was challenged at a briefing over what people should do if they bumped into friends or relatives at the park.  

Mr Johnson did not address what happened if friends encounter each other by chance while out exercising, merely stressing that socialising should still only happen with one person from another household - and even then two-metre social distancing must be observed. 
And he conceded that the new arrangements he was laying out were 'more complicated' than the old 'stay at home' mantra. 
'It's when you come to take small steps back to normality, as we are now, that clearly the message becomes finer, more complicated,' he said. 
'We're saying that if you can't work from home you should talk to your employer about getting back to work, but explained: 'We're insisting that it's got to be safe at work and safe to get there.' 
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at the Downing Street press briefing yesterday
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at the Downing Street press briefing yesterday
Amid an increasingly bitter split with Nicola Sturgeon over changing the core message to 'stay alert', Mr Johnson said: 'Stay alert for the vast majority of people still means stay at home as much as possible.'
Mr Johnson said: 'What we are saying is that you can go to the park to exercise on your own in an unlimited way, you can go with members of your own household. 
The bruising exchanges came as Mr Johnson tried to move on from a shambolic launch to the changes - with No10 and Dominic Raab embarrassingly at odds over when the measures come into force and exactly how they will operate.     
The 50-page 'road map' stressed that the five tests have not yet been met, and so major loosening of the draconian curbs is not possible.  

But the document said 'smarter' social distancing measures are being introduced to try and nudge the country back to some sort of normality. 
In the future restrictions will be targeted 'more precisely', recognising that 'not everybody's or every group's risk is the same'. 
It holds out the prospect of non-essential shop, TV sports and weddings starting to resume from next month - with the prospect of allowing people to socialise outside their own households in small 'bubbles'.
However, it leaves no doubt that hairdressers, pubs and foreign holidays are much further off.  
The overhaul will also only apply to England, as Ms Sturgeon and her counterparts in Wales and Northern Ireland have signalled they will stick to the previous hardline 'stay at home' message.    
Natasha from Richmond asked why teachers are expected to go back to work but cannot see their family members
Pictured: Simon, a caller from Essex, speaks to the PM
Natasha from Richmond (left) asked why teachers are expected to go back to work but cannot see their family members. Pictured, right, is Simon, a caller from Essex 
Megan from Nuneaton speaks to the PM
Scott from East Devon speaks to Boris Johnson
The Prime Minister spoke with concerned callers tonight as he discussed the impact of the lockdown with Scott from East Devon (right) and Megan from Nuneaton (left) 
As he came under fire at the briefing, Mr Johnson said: 'If you want to meet somebody from outside your household, it's got to be you and that other person just as a pair and you should observe social distancing while you're there.
'And so each of you basically on a one-on-one thing but with social distancing, keeping two metres apart.'
Natasha from Richmond asked Mr Johnson why she could be returning to work as a primary school teacher but was still not permitted to see family.
The Prime Minister said 'there is new scope to see one other member of your family somewhere outdoors' but added: 'I hope you understand the constraints we're under.
'We have to keep this disease at bay, we have to advance very gradually.'
Mr Johnson was pressed by a woman from the Lake District on why he had not imposed a limit on people travelling to take exercise, raising concerns that beauty spots would be swamped. 
'What we're saying is we want people to be able to use the outdoors to be able to exercise in an unlimited way outdoors but they've got to obey social distancing,' Mr Johnson said.
'So there can't be any question of people just going off for holidays for staying in places like the Lake District, if they do go to exercise, it's got to be done with social distancing.'

Responding to a question from John, from Londonderry, Mr Johnson said there will be no control points on the borders even if the devolved governments take different strategies to easing the lockdown.
He said: 'There'll be no checks, nothing is intended between Ireland and Northern Ireland and similarly you wouldn't expect anything between GB and Northern Ireland.
'What we really want people to do in this country is to look at our social distancing measures that we're proposing.
'All four nations totally understand what those social distancing measures are and apply them with common sense.'

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