Boris Johnson back in Downing Street to lead coronavirus response

27 April 2020, 07:34

Boris Johnson has returned to work on Monday
Boris Johnson has returned to work on Monday. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Boris Johnson is set to return to work today to lead the Government's response to the Covid-19 crisis three weeks after he was taken to hospital suffering from the disease.

The PM is said to be "raring to go" as he gets back to the helm and take charge of the UK's response to coronavirus.

On Monday he will chair the regular morning meeting of the Government's Covid-19 "war cabinet" before heading into a series of meetings with senior ministers and officials.

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The PM first said he tested positive for Covid-19 on March 27, and was admitted to hospital on April 5 after his condition deteriorated.

He spent two nights in the intensive care unit at St Thomas' Hospital before finally being released from the hospital on April 12 and spent most of his recovery at his country seat of Chequers in Buckinghamshire.

Stand in Prime Minister Dominic Raab - who has been deputising for him in his absence - said he was "raring to go" after a fortnight recovering at Chequers, his official country residence.

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Mr Johnson is facing calls senior Tories to start lifting the lockdown amid mounting concern at the damage it is causing to the economy.

The PM is also returning to mounting pressure from opposition parties over clarifying the country's route out of the lockdown, with Labour adding pressure with a renewed call for the Government to set out an "exit strategy" explaining how it will eventually be lifted.

Mr Johnson will have just two weeks before the next major decision point comes up with the next three-week review of the lockdown restrictions due on May 7.

Mr Raab said the Government was doing its "homework" in preparation for when the rules could be eased.

It is thought that amongst the first could be a re-opening of schools, although Mr Raab said that would be "inconceivable" without some further measures in place.

Ministers are also thought to be considering allowing some non-essential businesses to open such as garden centres and car showrooms, provided social-distancing could be maintained.

Mr Raab also indicated that officials were looking at possible checks at air and sea ports with passengers arriving in the UK required to quarantine for 14 days.

Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 committee, has said that more needed to be done to get the economy moving, and there was a limit to how long people would tolerate restrictions, especially if they seemed illogical.

He urged an "overriding principle ... that we will only maintain those restrictions which are necessary and if there is a question over whether something is necessary or not, I think we should ere on the side of openness and trying to make sure that more people can get on with their lives and more people can get on with getting back to their jobs".

Over the weekend, ministers highlighted a warning by Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey of the economic devastation a second wave of the disease would cause.