Darren Adam 1am - 4am
Boris Johnson 'orders coronavirus second wave action plan'
2 August 2020, 08:35
Boris Johnson has ordered officials to work-up a plan for avoiding a second national lockdown, according to reports.
The prime minister is considering asking the elderly to shield again this year - despite only being allowed out of their homes on Saturday - and is contemplating rules similar to a new lockdown for London should there be a second wave of coronavirus infections, according to reports in The Sunday Telegraph and The Sunday Times.
The claims come after Mr Johnson was forced to announce a slow down of the lockdown easing on Friday, with planned relaxations for the leisure and beauty sectors delayed after a rise in Covid-19 cases was recorded.
The prevalence of the virus in the community is thought to be rising for the first time since May - a red flag for many scientists and government advisers.
The newspapers reported the prime minister held a "war game" session with chancellor Rishi Sunak on Wednesday to run through possible options for averting another nationwide lockdown that could spell disaster for the UK's economy.
Under the proposals, a greater number of people would be asked to once again take part in the shielding programme, based on their age or particular risk factors that have been identified since March, said the Telegraph.
It could even see those aged between 50 and 70 given "personalised risk ratings" which would add to the already 2.2 million who were deemed most vulnerable and asked to shield themselves from society during the virus' peak.
The advice was only lifted on Saturday for those in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and remains in place until Saturday for those shielding in Wales.
Other ideas being considered including - should the R-rate escalate in the capital - include restricting travel beyond the M25 and putting a stop to staying at other people's houses - similar to new rules implemented imposed on residents in Leicester and parts of the Northern England in recent days.
Downing Street sources, however, distanced themselves from the detail in the reports and labelled them "speculative".
Meanwhile, former England midfielder Paul Scholes has been accused of holding a party at his Oldham home to celebrate his son's 21st on the same day lockdown measures were reimposed across parts of England's north-west.
Alleged phone footage shows revellers ignoring social distancing "as they drank and danced" at the seven-hour party, with the paper citing Tory MP Andrew Bridgen criticising Mr Scholes for "reckless behaviour".
Greater Manchester Police have been approached for comment over the alleged incident.
Writing in the Sunday Mirror, Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said people in his area "on the whole" had been brilliant "and I reject efforts to blame some for breaking lockdown rules".
On top of the alleged second wave preparations, experts have speculated that ministers might have to order the closure of pubs, which were permitted to start serving again on 4 July, if schools are to reopen fully in September.
Professor Graham Medley, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said earlier this week a "trade off" could be required if the Mr Johnson's pledge is to be met.
His comments followed chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty's remarks that the country was "near the limit" for opening up society following the coronavirus lockdown.