Government rejects claims in Sunday Times report

“Downing Street has hit back at newspaper reports that Boris Johnson and his administration dragged their feet in the run-up to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Number 10 accused the Sunday Times of ‘falsehoods’ and ‘errors’ after the newspaper published a piece in which a Whitehall source claimed the Government ‘missed the boat on testing and PPE’ (personal protective equipment). The article also claimed the Johnson administration ‘just watched’ as the death toll mounted in Wuhan, China. The government confirmed the prime minister missed five Cobra meetings in January and February as the outbreak began to take hold in other countries.” – Daily Mail



Johnson “cautious” over easing lockdown restrictions

“Boris Johnson has told colleagues that he is very cautious about easing lockdown restrictions and that his “overriding concern” is avoiding a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. The prime minister, who is recovering from Covid-19 at Chequers after several nights in intensive care, held a two-hour meeting on Friday with Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, Dominic Cummings, his most senior adviser, and Lee Cain, his director of communications.” – The Times

  • Gove and Sunak want to “minimise” the damage to businesses – Daily Mail
  • … But Hancock wants to “crush” the virus first – FT
  • PM “could return to work as early as the end of next week” – The Sun
  • Traffic light system proposed to the Government – Daily Telegraph
  • Pubs and restaurants will be “among the last” to see restrictions lifted, says Gove – Daily Mail
  • Police were called to 1,008 reports of people having house parties and gatherings over Easter weekend – Manchester Evening News
  • Lockdown “can’t go on forever”, says leading Government advisor – Daily Telegraph
  • Lifting lockdown is a complex decision – ministers must not make it in secret – Telegraph View
  • Coronavirus lockdown is starting to work – let’s cut the backseat driving – The Sun


Sunak to announce £1.25 billion start-up package…

“The government will invest in some of the UK’s most innovative start-ups as part of a £1.25bn bailout plan for venture capital-backed businesses struggling to survive the coronavirus lockdown. The chancellor is to launch a £500m co-investment fund for high-growth companies hit by the crisis with their venture capital backers, matching private sector money with state-backed loans that can convert into equity stakes. Smaller businesses focused on research and development can also apply for a new pot of £750m in grants and loans. Ministers see fast-growing companies with innovative research as crucial candidates for support through the pandemic, amid worries about the loss of groundbreaking technology that could underpin future economic growth.” – FT


… as Treasury predicts bleak outlook over coronavirus downturn

“The Treasury’s internal assessment of the impact of coronavirus warns that it may have a permanent impact on the economy and that recovery could take years, The Times can disclose. The assessment circulated among ministers last week is far more pessimistic than modelling by the Office for Budget Responsibility, the fiscal watchdog, published earlier in the week. The OBR suggested that GDP would drop by 35 per cent in the second quarter of this year but would return to pre-outbreak levels next year. It suggested that the recovery would be a V-shape.” – The Times

  • Nearly a third of British workers laid off – Daily Mail
  • Crisis will wipe off 6.5 million jobs, warns report – Daily Mail
  • Sunak’s job retention scheme goes live – FT
  • Fears over job cuts ahead as UK’s furlough scheme opens – Daily Telegraph
  • British households face income fall of £515 per month – The Guardian
  • Stretched parents need help, says think tank – The Times
  • A quarter of dairy farms “unviable” because of falls in milk demand and prices, says National Farmers’ Union – FT
  • Raising awareness of loneliness “less of a battle” due to coronavirus, says Minister for Loneliness – The Yorkshire Post
  • Workers without degrees hit hardest by crisis – The Guardian
  • Coronavirus outbreak will halt 520,000 UK house sales in 2020 – The Guardian

Jacob Rees-Mogg: Our virtual parliament won’t be perfect, but it will preserve the Commons’ vital essence

“At a time when much uncertainty and concern hangs in the air, the nation is proving its calm resolve and ability to respond to change and adapt. The response to the Government’s message to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives has been remarkable. In a small number of places around the country, however, some are having to do their best to keep moving. As sure as the tide recedes and the tide returns, Parliament will be sitting once more from tomorrow. While much around us changes, this pillar of our constitution holds fast. The panelled walls of the Commons chamber will not reverberate with the sound of hundreds of “hear hears”, nor will a flock of order papers be fluttered, nor will the occasional well-crafted taunt wing its way across the benches to pierce a political opponent’s armour.” – Daily Telegraph

Hospital gowns “could run out today”

“Doctors have warned they could stop treating coronavirus patients to protect their own lives as equipment shortages become critical. Hospitals are on the brink of running out of some life-saving supplies today after a vital delivery of 400,000 protective gowns from Turkey was delayed. Medical bodies say the shortages mean doctors could be forced into a ‘difficult decision’ between exposing themselves to the virus or ‘letting a patient die on their watch’. It comes as the death toll among health workers including frontline NHS staff and care workers hits 80.” – Daily Mail

  • NHS bosses back staff who refuse to work without gowns and masks – The Times
  • Hancock appoints London Olympics boss as “PPE tsar” – Daily Mail
  • Labs are 80,000 tests short from UK target – Daily Mail
  • Better coronavirus testing may not have saved more lives, says deputy chief medical officer – Daily Telegraph
  • NHS Confederation and NHS Providers criticises Government – The Guardian
  • 2,500 care home deaths from coronavirus – Daily Mail
  • Red tape at care homes denies residences a dignified death – The Times
  • Military veterans help draft PTSD guidance for NHS workers – The Guardian


Sir Patrick Vallance: There are reasons to be optimistic about a coronavirus vaccine. But it will take time.

“Covid-19 has made fundamental and long-lasting changes to the way we live our lives, not just in the UK, but across the world. As we continue with social-distancing measures and deal with the most immediate issue of reducing the number of cases to protect the NHS and save lives, and keeping R, which is the average infection rate per person, below one, we also need to progress ways to tackle the disease in the longer term. Ultimately the way out will likely include vaccines, new medicines or both. An effective vaccine would both prevent people getting Covid-19 and curb transmission.” – The Guardian

  • 100 doctors call for Britons to wear face masks – Daily Mail
  • Doctors urge Hancock to increase cancer treatment capacity – Daily Mail

Schools “will reopen in June earliest”

“MILLIONS of kids start home learning tomorrow — amid talks about some schools reopening by the summer. However, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson refused to set a date for children to return. He said he wanted “nothing more” than to see kids back in the classrooms across the nation – but he shot down rumours school gates would open again next month. Instead, education chiefs are discussing plans for limited opening in June at the earliest. Even then, sources said it was likely that primary schools would open first – as they have in Denmark.” – The Sun

  • Two thirds of children have not taken part in online lessons during lockdown – Daily Telegraph

Big companies must play their part in helping news industry, says Dowden

“Leading advertising companies across the country have joined forces in an effort to stop the ‘overzealous use of keyword blocking’ and protect the UK news industry. Industry bodies have come together to support the message by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) by urging firms to end ‘ad-blocking’ on online articles about the pandemic and ‘play their part’ in supporting journalism. The move comes as the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told Britain’s 100 biggest brands, including Amazon, Sky and Tesco, to allow their adverts to appear next to coronavirus coverage and described news as ‘the fourth emergency service’.” – Daily Mail

Labour could face £8 million legal bill from whistleblowers

“Labour could be ‘bankrupted by legal fees’ after more than 30 whistleblowers were exposed in a leaked report into the party’s handling of anti-Semitism. Sources said the individuals are considering suing it for breach of privacy and putting their safety at risk. The compensation bill plus lawyer costs may end up as high as £8million, they warn. Some of the whistleblowers have received death threats since they were revealed in the leaked internal report last week.” – Daily Mail

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