Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday sought views from opposition leaders in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, and invited them for a briefing with him next week, as most of the UK remained hunkered down at home over another sunny weekend.
Johnson, who remains in self-isolation in Downing Street after testing positive for the virus, said all political parties have a duty to work together at a time of national emergency.
He wrote in a letter to opposition leaders: “I would like to invite all leaders of opposition parties in Parliament to a briefing with myself, the chief medical officer and chief scientific adviser next week”.
“I want to listen to your views and update you on the measures we have taken so far, such as rapidly expanding testing and providing economic support to businesses and individuals across the country”.
“The government I lead will act in the national interest at all times and be guided by the best scientific evidence, and of course we will continue to engage constructively with all political parties on the national effort to defeat this pandemic”, he added.
Keir Starmer, the new leader of the Labour party, is among several MPs who have demanded that parliament meet virtually so that the Johnson government could be held to account on the measures it is taking to deal with the pandemic. Parliament is due to resume on April 21.
Britain’s health, council and police officials reiterated their core message to the people to stay at home and not venture out to enjoy the warmer weather over the sunny weekend. There have been reports that some people have been flocking to beaches and parks.
Neil Ferguson, a leading expert advising the Johnson government, told BBC that the pandemic was expected to plateau in the next week to 10 days, but that the public’s behaviour was crucial for determining what happens next.
If people continued to follow guidelines to stay at home, he was hopeful that some of the intensive social distancing measures could be substituted for rapid testing and contact tracing in a few weeks’ time, once case numbers are lower.
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