Boris Johnson’s team want to soften lockdown messaging over fears it has ‘gone too far’

PUBLISHED: 11:51 10 April 2020 | UPDATED: 11:51 10 April 2020

Coronavirus warnings on signs in Glasgow as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.

Coronavirus warnings on signs in Glasgow as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire.

Boris Johnson is reportedly worried the coronavirus lockdown has ‘gone too far’ with his team looking at ways to ‘soften’ the messaging.

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The Telegraph reports some ministers believe the messaging on the coronavirus has worked better than expected, meaning fewer people paying into the economy, and more people relying on the government’s job retention scheme.

“Our message was supposed to be: keep working, but work from home if possible,” one minister told the newspaper. “But that message has got lost.”

It reports that Johnson continued to issue the advice on the belief that many “would not really listen”, and now his team are looking at ways to soften the message, but that has been made trickier by the prime minister out of action.

Privately the chief medical officer Chris Whitty is said to be concerned the lockdown will have an indirect consequences on people’s health - fo example those choosing not to vaccinate children or abandoning therapy.


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Robert Peston, meanwhile, writes there are fears over the impact on those on low incomes, with claims for Universal Credit currently three times the usual rate.

There are also concerns about people’s mental health, and the impact current circumstances will have on those with long-term or chronic conditions, who are getting less support.

It is supported by claims from an SNP MP Philippa Whitford on Newsnight, who claimed: “People have just been hearing wall-to-wall COVID-19, there may be a fear of going to hospital.”

Peston notes: “In other words lives will be lost that would otherwise be saved.”

The cabinet is said to be split between three groups, with those thinking the lockdown has gone too far, is too lax, and those that do not hold a view because the public remains convinced the current circumstances is the right approach.

The government is expected to review the measures in the coming days, but it is not likely to lift the rules until May at the earliest.

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