Home U.K. ‘Are you waiting for Boris?’ BBC's Nick Robinson demands clarity on coronavirus...

‘Are you waiting for Boris?’ BBC's Nick Robinson demands clarity on coronavirus lockdown

BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme host Nick Robinson urged Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden to come clear about what the Government’s next step will be in terms of extending coronavirus lockdown measures after Wales and Scotland announced the lockdown will continue. The BBC host grilled Mr Dowden demanding the Government is “more clear” on what’s to come and suggesting the Cabinet is “waiting for Boris Johnson” to come out of intensive care before making any further decision. 

The Culture Secretary gave an update on the Prime Minister’s health, saying Boris Johnson is doing “reasonably well”.

Asked about whether the Prime Minister will be able to make a decision himself on the lockdown next week, Mr Dowden said: “He’s in a stable condition, he seems to be doing reasonably well, he was sat up and engaging with medical staff.

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“But we have a well-established mechanism for the first minister Dominic Raab to take the Prime Minister’s place in chairing such meetings, he will chair Cobra and he will chair the relevant decisions.

“This is just about going through a proper process, that’s why we’re waiting for next week.”

READ MORE: BBC’s Andrew Neil defends Boris Johnson after flaw in EU scheme

Coronavirus latest: Oliver Dowden said lockdown measures will be reviewed (Image: BBC)

Coronavirus UK lockdown list of measures (Image: EXPRESS)

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After Boris Johnson spent a third night in intensive care, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will deputise for him by chairing a Cobra emergency committee on Thursday afternoon to discuss the lockdown measures with leaders of the devolved nations.

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No decision is expected to be made at that meeting in the Prime Minister’s absence, with key figures dealing with the response instead discussing whether to ease or strengthen the measures ahead of an announcement next week.

With Wednesday seeing a rise of 938 in the number of deaths in hospitals of patients who tested positive for COVID-19, the highest new total so far – and the Prime Minister still in hospital, there seems little chance of the lockdown being lifted.

However, the restrictions face their toughest test so far over the Easter weekend, with temperatures set to reach 25C (77F) in some parts of the country – which could tempt more people to break the stay-at-home rules.

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Speaking earlier on BBC News, Mr Dowden urged the public not to give up on the measures during the test of the long weekend as he predicted they would not be eased next week.

“I don’t think it’s very likely these measures are going to be changed given they’re just starting to have an effect but, as we said, we would review them,” he told BBC News.

“It’s only prudent that on an ongoing basis we review them after three weeks.”

Wales has already announced an extension of lockdown measures, and Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething said there is “virtually zero prospect” of experts advising UK-wide measures can be eased yet.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak refused to “speculate” about the future of the lockdown, instead confirming there would be a review of the measures “in and around three weeks” after they started.

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Boris Johnson was admitted to ICU on Monday as his condition deteriorated (Image: GETTY)

The three-week mark will be reached on Easter Monday, while legislation designed to assist with the containment must also be reviewed at least once every 21 days – with the first due to be carried out by April 16 at the latest.

Mr Sunak sidestepped questions about the prospect of different parts of the UK emerging from the lockdown at different times.

Deputy chief scientific adviser Professor Dame Angela McLean, addressing the same question, said she suspected “simple strategies might well turn out to be the best to use”.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said Britons have responded “really well” to the measures but told ITV’s Peston: “It’s not a case of just throwing that away but in making sure, as we have done every step of the way in our plan, we listen to our experts, we come to a judgment and more of that will be discussed (on Thursday).”

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford earlier said the lockdown will not end in Wales next week, insisting “we will not throw away the gains” by “abandoning our efforts just as they begin to bear fruit”.

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