Senior ministers worry that plan to end coronavirus lockdown is drifting because of No 10 power vacuum – The Sun

FRESH concern was mounting among senior ministers tonight about how a plan to end the coronavirus lockdown is drifting because of the power vacuum.

Downing Street aimed to spell out a formula this week on how it will gradually allow the nation to return to normal after the contagion’s peak.

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Some Cabinet ministers pushed for No10 to lay out a route map to give the public reassurance as the economic destruction mounts.

But a bid to publish the latest thinking at the same time as the lockdown’s three week legal review on Thursday has now been shelved.

Today the key committee of government advisers will determine the success of Britain’s coronavirus lockdown in what could influence the length of the lockdown.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) will analyse data on how the first three weeks of the lockdown has impacted on infection and death rates.


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Senior members of the committee held a preliminary conference all yesterday and discussed the possibility of keeping certain places such as care homes in lockdown when the rest of the country is released from the restrictions because of concerns of “epidemics within epidemics”.

But there was a “consensus building that it would be premature to relax measures given the current uncertainties about what could come of it”.

Their findings will inform tomorrow’s meeting of the Government’s emergency COBRA committee, chaired by stand-in leader Dominic Raab, who is deputising for Boris Johnson while he recovers at Chequers.

But government insiders have also questioned who was driving the crucial work, amid accusations that Mr Raab is unwilling to step up for fear of contradicting the Prime Minister’s plan while he is recuperating.

The Sun can also reveal there are new worries now about secondary reinfection from South Korea, forcing another delay as scientific advisers say they need more data.


One minister closely involved in the fight told The Sun: “There is clearly no one in charge of a plan.

“Raab isn’t directing things, he’s just convening meetings. The Cabinet isn’t being asked to decide anything either.”

The Cabinet’s regular Tuesday meeting today has been suspended for the second week in a row.

Reports of deep splits over when to lift the lockdown among Boris Johnson’s top table in his absence were dubbed “premature” by another senior government insider.

While work is being drawn up across several ministries, it also emerged that the Cabinet still hasn’t had a formal discuss about a lockdown exit strategy yet as a group.

Another Cabinet source added: “Everyone is pretty much agreed that it's vital to start getting people back to work as soon as possible, but there is also agreement that nobody has any clue how to do that safely yet.

“We do have to be more transparent about the trade offs and what the choices are.

“But there are 15 to 20 different variables going into any decision on when to relax restrictions, it’s incredibly complicated.”

Fresh alarm bells are also ringing in government about reports in South Korea that around 100 former Covid-19 sufferers have been re-infected with the disease.

The Cabinet source added: “The evidence coming out of South Korea about secondary infections is concerning people, so we will need to wait for the medical evidence to work out what is going on there.”

“This is a brand new virus and we still don’t really know how it operates.

“The basic truth is the only way we can get out of this for good is a vaccine.”

Yesterday leading members of SAGE had a preliminary video conference call, with one insider saying there was a broad consensus that they will not be recommending any lockdown measures be lifted.

The source said: “A consensus is building that it would be premature to relax measures given current uncertainties about what could come of it.

"People within government are actively looking at what measures could be lifted and what the approach should be but they’re listening to science and the data.”

PM Boris Johnson could be off work for several more weeks still as he convalesces at Chequers, and his powerful chief of staff Dominic Cummings is also still laid low with the virus.

The law granting emergency coronavirus powers states a review of the lockdown must be carried out by Thursday.

The PM’s official spokesman said: “Once the review is complete, we will set out the reasons we have taken the decision that we have, but I’m not going to pre-empt that.

“We are very alive to the social consequences of lockdown.”

On why the Cabinet wasn’t meeting again this week, the spokesman added: “The coordination to the coronavirus response is being done by the morning meeting and ministerial groups”.

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