Cabinet set to agree lockdown exit plans

“Mr Johnson will hold a series of meetings with key ministers this week to finalise details of how different sectors, including businesses and schools, could start easing their way back without risking a second wave of the virus. Government scientific advisers will brief him on the risk involved in lifting each measure before he and his ministers make the “difficult choice” of which restrictions to ease and which to keep. Downing Street sources confirmed that the Prime Minister was expected to share his plans with the nation by the end of the week. The Prime Minister disclosed that he would be meeting Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, this week as he sought to build consensus with opposition leaders on the best way forward.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Johnson’s return brings buzz back to Downing St – The Times
  • And PM back to face one of ‘biggest calls of his career’ – FT

We’re moving to second phase of virus battle, says Johnson

“Schools are set to remain shut next month as Boris Johnson prepares to lay out a limited set of changes to the lockdown within days. The prime minister said that he would detail the preparations for a “second phase” of the battle against coronavirus, promising “maximum transparency” on his first day back in Downing Street yesterday. Measures identified for the first steps include helping workplaces to reduce the spread of the virus by enforcing social distancing and ensuring that staff can wash their hands regularly. Shops selling “non-essential” items would be allowed to reopen if they could keep customers two metres apart. People could also be allowed to mix with a wider group of friends and family under an expanded definition of a household that creates limited “bubbles” of people who can see each other, but not other people, regularly.” – The Times

  • Hancock announces hospitals to restart vital care today – Daily Mail
  • Social distancing on trains, garden centres reopened – Daily Telegraph
  • Brits to be allowed to meet in ‘bubbles’ of 10 – Daily Mail
  • Sage scientists split on how to handle crisis – Daily Telegraph
  • How the Government plans to start ending lockdown – Daily Telegraph
  • Ministers meet unions and business to plan getting UK back to work – The Guardian

Care homes now UK’s frontline, sector leaders say

“The UK’s coronavirus frontline has switched from hospitals to care homes, according to sector leaders who have dismissed Boris Johnson’s claim that the virus has been “wrestled to the floor” as premature. Deaths in some of the largest care home networks have surged by more than 70% in the last week or two, operators said on Monday. Official figures due on Tuesday are expected to show a significant increase. In the week ending 19 April, 651 of the 682 coronavirus outbreaks reported across the whole of England were in care homes, Public Health England (PHE) reported. Leaders in the sector have demanded greater medical help and said the peak of social care fatalities is yet to come.” – The Guardian

  • Ministers knew care home risk, says Vallance – The Times
  • Families of workers who died to receive £60,000 – Daily Mail

Result of 100k-a-day tests pledge will not be revealed this week

“The government will be unable to reveal the results of its own 100,000-a-day Covid-19 testing pledge until next week because of a time lag in getting the findings back, according to No 10. The health secretary, Matt Hancock, made his commitment on 2 April to reach the target by the end of the month and he has said he is still on target to hit the figure despite increasing uncertainty. Figures show 29,000 tests were carried out in the latest 24-hour period of data available to the government. This does not include tests carried out over the weekend. It has emerged that the government does not expect to be able to release accurate figures on 30 April as to whether the 100,000 target had been reached.” – The Guardian

  • Partial list of Sage members to be published – FT

‘Track and trace’ plan to beat virus still weeks away

“A crucial new ‘track and trace’ plan to beat coronavirus is still weeks away after it emerged the current number of cases is far too high. Chasing down people that new sufferers have mixed with to halt contagion chains has proved hugely successful in countries like South Korea and Germany. Health Secretary Matt Hancock last week announced the NHS is recruiting 18,000 contact tracers to do the same in Britain. But for track and trace to work, ministers believe the number who currently have the virus will need to be reduced to 100,000 first, The Sun can reveal. At the moment, the estimated number is still running at 350,000, according to the King’s College London tracker. Without the track and trace scheme in place, it is likely the Cabinet will decide the full lockdown will have to stay in place beyond the next review point on May 7 in nine days time.” – The Sun

  • UK failed to stockpile crucial PPE – BBC News
  • Nightingale plan to keep hospitals free from coronavirus – The Times
  • Roads at busiest since lockdown began – The Times
  • Hancock alarm at rare illness hitting children – The Times
  • We’ve won, says PM as New Zealand goes fishing – The Times
  • New Zealand on the verge of ‘brilliant’ victory – Daily Telegraph

Loans up to £50,000 for small businesses

“Small businesses will be able to access loans of up to £50,000 underwritten by the taxpayer from next week, the chancellor announced yesterday as he admitted that some companies affected by coronavirus were struggling to get support. In an extension of the government’s existing loan scheme, Rishi Sunak said that small firms would be able to apply for a loan worth up to 25 per cent of their annual turnover, with the government paying the interest for the first 12 months. The application process would be a “simple, quick standard form” and banks would perform only “customary” checks on applicants, Mr Sunak said. “For most firms loans will arrive within 24 hours of approval,” he told MPs.” – The Times

  • Social distancing after lockdown could ruin us, say businesses – The Times
  • Chancellor u-turn gives hope to small firms – Daily Telegraph
  • Smallest companies given access to 100% loans – FT
  • Sunak plans ‘gradual’ wind-down of job support scheme – FT
  • English councils plead for £10bn – FT

Tebbit: PM is ready to plot our route out of lockdown

“The best news of the last few weeks is that after his spell of recuperation at Chequers, Boris Johnson is back at No 10. As I know from having spent Christmas with Margaret and Dennis Thatcher at Chequers in 1984 as I was recovering from the injuries incurred in the Grand Hotel bombing, it is an ideal place to regain one’s strength. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, our crew of political leaders face unprecedented difficulties even in deciding where we are in the struggle with that wretched virus and remarkably short of ideas to get back to something like normal times.” – Daily Telegraph

UK to hold minute’s silence for key workers who died

“Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who returned to work on Monday, will join the tribute, which starts at 11:00 BST. More than 100 NHS and care staff have died with the virus, as have many transport and other key workers. NHS England medical director Stephen Powis said he hoped “the whole nation” would show how much their “contribution is remembered and appreciated”. Chief nursing officer Ruth May added: “Every death is a tragedy but we feel the loss of fellow health and care workers particularly keenly.” It comes as hospitals in England start planning to restore some NHS services that had to be postponed because of the pandemic.” – BBC News

We won’t need an extension to our Brexit transition time, insists Gove

“Ministers have stood down the government’s no-deal Brexit planning operation, Michael Gove said yesterday as he claimed that the chances of striking a deal were now at least 2-1. Giving evidence to MPs, Mr Gove revealed that about 50 civil servants who had been working on Brexit negotiations had been re-deployed to deal with coronavirus and that there were no active preparations for leaving without a trade deal in December. However, he said that there was no need for an extension to the transition period as Britain was asking for an “off the peg” trade deal with the European Union and it was in both sides’ interests to reach agreement by the end of the year.” – The Times

Tor: Starmer lacks the right scruff to be hero of the left

“Now, I believe Sir Keir has been eased into his role as leader of the opposition far too gently – conducting one investigation into leaked documents on the handling of antisemitism in the Labour Party is, to use the correct political jargon, child’s play – so it’s time to scrutinise his PMQ performance. First, let’s conduct the Hand Gesture Test. Ah, not an ounce of Tory within this Labour leader by the looks of it; his straight open hand cuts through the air like a knife as he delivers his arguments. Sir Keir, I’m afraid, is far too well-groomed for an opposition leader; the only thing that boosts him from a 1 to a 2 is the little strand of unkempt hair that has broken free of the highly lacquered quiff. How disappointing.” – The Times

Trump takes no responsibility for disinfectant misuse

“President Donald Trump has said that he “can’t imagine why” the increase in people using disinfectant has risen since last week. The president made the comment during his press conference on Monday when being questioned by a reporter. During the Rose Garden press conference, a journalist told Trump that there had been a “spike” in the amount of people using disinfectant. Responding to the comment, the president said: “I can’t imagine why. I can’t imagine why.” The reporter then asked if Trump takes any responsibility for the rise in the figure, to which he replied “no, I don’t”. Last week, the president was criticized for suggesting that injecting disinfecting might help kill the coronavirus.” – The Sun

  • President responds to Kim Jong-un death rumours – Daily Express
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