Coronavirus: PM to set out plans to rebuild economy amid fears of lack of strategy over second surge

7 June 2020, 04:28 | Updated: 7 June 2020, 07:19

Boris Johnson will make a key speech on rebuilding Britain's economy in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, amid growing concern that he does not have an effective strategy for preventing a second peak of the virus.

Fear is growing among ministers that millions of jobs may be lost if pubs and restaurants are not allowed to reopen this summer and Mr Johnson is understood to have tasked his team with developing plans to get business moving as soon as possible to prevent a major economic slowdown.

But medical professionals have warned that the prime minister must not take his focus away from coping with the coronavirus as the death rate remains high and the rate of transmission has risen above 1 in some areas.

In a speech within the next few weeks Mr Johnson will set out how his government will fast-track infrastructure projects in order to create jobs and rebuild the economy.

He is also understood to be looking at how to increase apprenticeships, improve the use of data across government and bolster the NHS before a potential second outbreak this winter.

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However medical professionals have warned of a breakdown of trust and communication between the NHS and ministers in the wake of a government announcement calling on all hospital staff to wear face masks made earlier this week.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said hospital trusts had not been warned of the changes and highlighted fears about supply of masks to staff.

Speaking to the Observer newspaper, Mr Hopson said: "The real concern is that we don't have that same degree of trust, because we're not having the kind of honest and open debates that we need. We seem to be resorting to kind of fairly cheap political rhetoric about stuff being world-class, when it clearly isn't."

Downing Street has insisted that Mr Johnson's main focus remains tackling coronavirus, which has killed more than 40,000 people in the UK so far.

But there is a growing sense among Mr Johnson and his senior team that millions of job losses also present a major risk to the country and urgent plans are needed to try to support businesses as some lockdown measures are eased.