Behind the scenes

Coronavirus: three government proposals for tightening lockdown

Michael Gove leading ‘Covid-O’ committee tasked with reviewing restrictions as infections soar across UK

Boris Johnson’s top Covid team are calling for tighter lockdown rules amid warnings that the current restrictions are not being followed strictly enough.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove chaired an emergency meeting on Sunday of the cabinet’s “Covid-O” sub-committee where various “ideas were discussed” for the potential crackdown, Politico London Playbook’s Alex Wickham reports. Hours later, Boris Johnson met with cabinet colleagues to talk about whether the current lockdown rules were working to reduce spiralling Covid cases at a sufficient rate.

In the wake of those meetings, Downing Street has launched what Whitehall insiders have described as “enforcement week” to hammer home the message that the public must follow the restrictions properly, says Wickham. But government officials last night “confirmed ministers are looking at how the guidance might be tightened if necessary in the next few days”, he adds.

More space

One idea that has been considered by the Covid-O group is to increase social distancing to three metres, according to the Daily Mail.

Experts from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) have reportedly suggested that extending the current two-metre measure could be an effective way to help control the virus. But “opponents of the move say it would have little impact, cause more confusion and be a logistical nightmare”, adds the paper.

A Downing Street spokesperson said last night that there were “no current plans to change social distancing rules” but that “everything is kept under review”.

More deliveries

A second proposal put forward at the Covid-O meeting is to ban click-and-collect services everywhere apart from supermarkets and “essential retail”, The Telegraph reports. The policy would include “scaling back the use of collection services for restaurants and takeaway services”, says the paper.

More closures

Meanwhile, the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg warns that there are “even more limits that ministers, not just in Westminster but in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast too, could introduce”.

Schools could be “forcibly closed to all pupils”, with nurseries also shut, she writes. And “building sites could be made to lock their gates”, while “factories where machines are still whirring because they are operating under Covid guidelines could be made to pause.”

Kuenssberg also suggests that playgrounds, launderettes and chiropractors could be ordered to close as part of the push to reduce all unnecessary social contact.

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