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Three-stage plan emerges for the easing of lockdown. Four-man ministerial squad is drawing up plans for Johnson…

“Boris Johnson has begun giving directions to his Government from Chequers, as Downing Street attempts to grip the coronavirus crisis, The Sunday Telegraph can disclose. The Prime Minister issued orders to Dominic Raab, his deputy, and senior aides, in a series of calls last week, followed by a three hour meeting with the Foreign Secretary and staff on Friday. Mr Johnson’s intervention comes as he recovers from coronavirus at Chequers before making a decision about when to return to work. It followed sustained criticism of aspects of the Government’s handling of the pandemic, including a national shortage of key personal protective equipment (PPE) used by NHS staff.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • ‘Traffic light’ plan to start easing restrictions – Sun on Sunday
  • Government accused of ‘under-estimating the public’ – The Observer

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>Today: ToryDiary: We hope and expect Johnson will be back by May 8. But if he isn’t, Raab must lead in easing the lockdown.

…as he appears to talk up return to the helm

“Boris Johnson has told Cabinet colleagues he will return to lead Britain out of lockdown — and friends say it could be as early as next week. He is determined to be at No10 to direct plans to get the country moving again. And an ally said: “It wouldn’t surprise me if he was back before the end of next week. “Everyone knows he is the key to selling the end of the lockdown to voters. This is the biggest decision he will ever take and he knows the implications are vast for millions of families. There is no way he will be on the sidelines.” Downing Street aides have stressed Boris must recover fully from coronavirus before stand-in Dominic Raab hands over. But the PM has set his sights on returning before May 11 when the extended lockdown is due to end — and critical decisions must be taken on the next step.” – Sun on Sunday

  • Prime Minister ‘issues first orders from Chequers’ – Sunday Express

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Iain Duncan Smith: Government must put their trust in the British people as they plan to unlock the lockdown

“Yet people are now asking as we extend lockdown, when we will we get the economy started again? Sadly, instead of answering this question, it seems to raise alarms bells in government, worrying that the public will suddenly assume that the lockdown is over and return to the streets. However, I believe they are wrong. Notice how the lockdown has already led to a significant change in behaviour by the British public, taking politicians and advisors by surprise. People have stuck to the lockdown so well that is working better than was expected. I therefore believe firmly that we must not now treat the British public like children. They are quite capable of understanding the difference between the need to continue the lockdown and plans to lift it. That’s why we need to make plans.” – Sun on Sunday

  • Britain ranks low in the fight against Covid-19 – Kristian Niemietz, Sunday Telegraph
  • In this war, ministers must ditch consultants and recruit real talent – Max Hastings, Sunday Times

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  • We need to extend the transition period with the EU – Anand Menon and Angus Armstrong, The Observer

>Today: Andrew Griffith MP in Comment: My constituency experience of those most affected by the shutdown.

Hancock hands kit shortage problem to London 2012 Olympics boss…

“The man who led planning for the London Olympics has been appointed the government’s “PPE tsar” in an admission that ministers have failed to get a grip on the supply of personal protective equipment to NHS workers. Lord Deighton, 64, who was chief executive of the 2012 organising committee, has been hired by Matt Hancock, the health secretary, to lead a “national effort” to make life-saving gowns, gloves and masks. The appointment of Deighton, who knows the prime minister well from their work together on the Olympics when Boris Johnson was London mayor, is reminiscent of Winston Churchill’s decision to hire his friend Lord Beaverbrook. The publishing mogul was made minister for aircraft production in 1940. Senior sources said Deighton would co-ordinate the “end-to-end process of design through to manufacture, including streamlining approvals” to speed up the flow of the PPE.” – Sunday Times

  • Ministers ‘plead with overseas counterparts’ to allow shipments as PPE shortage bites – Sunday Telegraph
  • Turkey delivers 400,000 gowns – Sun on Sunday
  • NHS is ‘weeks too slow’, says supplier – Sunday Times

…amidst reports that care homes could collapse due to staff pressures

“One in four carers are unable to work, leading to fears that the sector is on the brink of breaking down, according to a survey by the research group Skills for Care. The most common reason was self-isolation with virus symptoms or because of living with someone with the symptoms. Some carers were trapped by childcare. The survey of 211 adult social care providers, a sector that includes carers offering home help to the elderly and those working in residential homes, found that a third of those who responded said they needed more staff. It comes as the number of care home residents who have died with Covid-19 may have reached 7,500, according to Care England, which represents independent care services. The figure far exceeds its estimate last week of 1,400.” – Sunday Times

  • MPs urge government to suspend NHS immigration checks – The Observer
  • Health Service chief warned smaller care providers could fail last month – Sunday Telegraph

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  • Private hospitals taken over by the NHS ‘sinfully empty’ – Mail on Sunday

Yesterday: Mo Metcalfe-Fisher in Comment: The virus crisis reminds us how much we need our farmers

Lord Ashcroft: Our NHS needs its own army of volunteer reservists – just like the Army

“Among those engaged in the extraordinary operation to save the lives of the public are thousands of retired healthcare workers who responded to an appeal from Health Secretary Matt Hancock to return to work. Like Lance Corporal Croucher, who had left the Royal Marines for a quieter life after several operational tours but returned to Afghanistan as a Reservist, these doctors and nurses had hung up their boots. Yet, when their country needed them, they answered the call. This got me thinking: when this crisis is over, could the NHS create its own reserve force? In the military, some 37,000 volunteer Reserves (and a further 40,000 former Armed Forces personnel who are still liable to be recalled) play a crucial role for the nation, countering security threats and supporting humanitarian and peacekeeping missions.” – Mail on Sunday

Jenrick has ‘made it clear’ parks must stay open

“Robert Jenrick, the housing, communities and local government secretary, has “made it clear” to councils that they must keep parks open during the coronavirus lockdown, although he sidestepped calls to apologise for visiting his Herefordshire home. Speaking at the daily Downing Street press conference on the coronavirus outbreak, Jenrick said it “cannot be right” that some councils across the country had closed their parks in recent weeks. He said that, while the virus “does not discriminate”, lockdown measures are much harder for people who do not have gardens or open spaces for children to run around in. “People need parks. That’s why I have made it clear to councils that all parks must remain open,” he said.” – The Observer

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  • Hoyle tells ministers to ‘stay away’ as virtual Parliament is convened – Mail on Sunday

Trump warns China could face consequences over outbreak

“US President Donald Trump warned that China could face consequences if it was “knowingly responsible” for the coronavirus pandemic, as he ratcheted up criticism of Beijing over its handling of the outbreak. “It could have been stopped in China before it started and it wasn’t,” Mr Trump said at a White House briefing. “And now the whole world is suffering because of it.” It was the latest US volley in a war of words between the world’s two biggest economies, showing increased strains in relations at a time when experts say an unprecedented level of cooperation is needed to deal with the crisis. “If they were knowingly responsible, certainly,” he said… He did not elaborate on what actions the United States might take.” – Sunday Telegraph

  • Lockdown divides US as protesters demand end to policy – Mail on Sunday

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  • France plans a different path back to normality – Sunday Times

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