Ministers downplay talk of early easing of coronavirus lockdown

Ministers have poured cold water on reports the Government has drawn-up a graduated plan to start easing the coronavirus lockdown within weeks.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove denied suggestions a "traffic light" strategy is about to be brought in which would see some schools and businesses allowed to reopen in mid-May.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson also dismissed the Mail on Sunday report, tweeting: "No decision has been made on when we will reopen schools.

"I can reassure schools and parents that they will only reopen when the scientific advice indicates it is the right time to do so."

Michael Gove
Michael Gove said a series of tests need to be met before the lockdown can be eased in any way (Pippa Fowles/Crown Copyright/10 Downing Street/PA)

Mr Gove told Sky News's Sophy Ridge on Sunday: "It is the case that we are looking at all of the evidence, but we have set some tests which need to be passed before we can think of easing restrictions in this lockdown.

"It is entirely understandable, of course, that there should be a public debate about how we approach these difficult choices."

Mr Gove also strongly defended Boris Johnson after a wide-ranging report in The Sunday Times claimed the Prime Minister had missed five meetings of the key Cobra committee in the run-up to the outbreak.

100 PHOTOS
Coronavirus impacts Britain
See Gallery
Coronavirus impacts Britain
A customer receives a Gelish manicure at Lily's Nails & Beauty on Clerkenwell Road in London, Monday, July 13, 2020. Nail bars, beauty salons, tattoo and massage studios, are among businesses able to reopen in the latest lifting of restrictions in England put in place to stem the spread of coronavirus. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Manchester United's Brandon Williams is assisted from the field during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Southampton at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, Monday, July 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Peter Powell,Pool)
People make orders at a Sandwich stall on the Oxford Street during the reopening. Londoners have slowly began to go back to 'normal' with shops reopened on Oxford Street. This week the government has advised on the opening of gyms and pools from 11 July. (Photo by David Mbiyu / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
People queue at a fresh juice stand on the Oxford Street. Londoners have slowly began to go back to 'normal' with shops reopened on Oxford Street. This week the government has advised on the opening of gyms and pools from 11 July. (Photo by David Mbiyu / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
People sit at tables outside a restaurant in the Covent Garden area, in London, Saturday, July 11, 2020. Many restaurants and pubs have re-opened after he government announced the easing of lockdown measures in place to curb the spread of coronavirus. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
FULKING, ENGLAND - JULY 11: A general view of Preston Nomads Cricket Club from the top of Devils Dyke on July 11, 2020 in Fulking, England. Competitive local cricket returns as coronavirus lockdown restrictions are relaxed further. (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)
People socialising in Soho, central London, after the lifting of further coronavirus lockdown restrictions in England. Revellers are urged to remember the importance of social distancing as pubs gear up for the second weekend of trade since the lifting of lockdown measures. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
Sheffield United's David McGoldrick, right, scores his side's third goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Sheffield United and Chelsea at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, England, Saturday, July 11, 2020. Sheffield United won 3-0. (Shaun Botterill/Pool via AP)
BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - JULY 11: A staff member disinfects goal posts during a drinks break in the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Manchester City at American Express Community Stadium on July 11, 2020 in Brighton, England. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in all fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
People socialising in Soho, central London, after the lifting of further coronavirus lockdown restrictions in England. Revellers are urged to remember the importance of social distancing as pubs gear up for the second weekend of trade since the lifting of lockdown measures. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
People socialising in Soho, central London, after the lifting of further coronavirus lockdown restrictions in England. Revellers are urged to remember the importance of social distancing as pubs gear up for the second weekend of trade since the lifting of lockdown measures. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak greets an employee during his visit to Worcester Bosch factory to promote the initiative, Plan for Jobs.
The Prince of Wales laughs with members of staff during a visit to Turnbull and Asser shirt factory in Gloucester to meet staff members. During the early stages of the Coronavirus pandemic the company switched their entire production line to making scrubs for the NHS.
The Duchess of Cornwall speaks with members of staff during a visit to Turnbull and Asser shirt factory in Gloucester to meet staff members. During the early stages of the Coronavirus pandemic the company switched their entire production line to making scrubs for the NHS.
The Prince of Wales, who was accompanied by his wife the Duchess of Cornwall, talks to staff members during his visit to the Asda Distribution Centre in Avonmouth, Bristol, , where they thanked staff who have kept the country's vital food supplies moving throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
A miniature one way social distancing sign is placed in the shop front of Wilson and Son butchers at the Wimborne Model Town and Gardens in Wimborne, Dorset, as they prepare to reopen to members of the public on Saturday following the easing of lockdown restrictions in England.
A social distancing sign at the Wimborne Model Town and Gardens in Wimborne, Dorset, as they prepare to reopen to members of the public on Saturday following the easing of lockdown restrictions in England.
Season ticket holders walk the streets during a preview day at the Wimborne Model Town and Gardens in Wimborne, Dorset, as they prepare to reopen to members of the public on Saturday following the easing of lockdown restrictions in England.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer discusses employment and post Covid-19 support for businesses with staff at engineering components manufacturer, Beard and Fitch in Harlow today where he was joined by shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Bridget Phillipson MP. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 9, 2020. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Groundsmen wear face masks ahead of day two of the Test Series at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton.
England's Stuart Broad, right, and Sam Curran wear face masks as a precaution against the coronavirus before the start of the first day of the 1st cricket Test match between England and West Indies, at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, England, Wednesday July 8, 2020. (Adrian Dennis/Pool via AP)
Britain's Sophie, Countess of Wessex speaks to guests during a visit to The Half Moon pub in Windlesham, England, Wednesday, July 8, 2020. The Countess of Wessex visited the Surrey pub to speak to the pubs landlord and staff about how the business has been affected by COVID-19 and lockdown. (Stuart C. Wilson/PA via AP)
File photo dated 4/7/2020 of visitors wearing PPE sit apart as they view Eva Gonzales, 1870, by Edouard Manet, at the National Portrait Gallery, London, as it prepares to reopen following the easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions across England. The Government has announced a �1.57 billion support package to "protect the future of Britain's museums, galleries and theatres.
A clown circus performer poses in a phone box preparing, with other members of the Association of Circus Proprietors, to deliver a petition calling for permission to open their work, to 10 Downing Street in London, Tuesday July 7, 2020. Circus performers are calling for the right to reopen ahead of the busy summer season. (Gareth Fuller/PA via AP)
Staff at Penlon in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, ship the final truck of ventilators out to the NHS. The Ventilator Challenge UK Consortium has produced 13,437 ventilators in 12 weeks. The Consortium includes UK technology, industrial and engineering businesses from across the aerospace, motorsport, automotive and medical sectors and includes Airbus, Ford, GKN Aerospace, McLaren, Siemens and Rolls-Royce.
Late-night drinkers in Soho continue into the early hours of Sunday morning as coronavirus lockdown restrictions are eased across England. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
Late-night drinkers in Soho dance on the street in the early hours of Sunday morning as coronavirus lockdown restrictions are eased across England. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
A woman poses with a street cleaner in Soho as drinkers continue into the early hours of Sunday morning, as coronavirus lockdown restrictions are eased across England. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London
A street cleaner sweeps a street in Soho as late-night drinkers continue into the early hours of Sunday morning as coronavirus lockdown restrictions are eased across England. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Police officers are seen breaking up a fight outside a pub in Soho on July 4, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. The UK Government announced that Pubs, Hotels and Restaurants can open from Saturday, July 4th providing they follow guidelines on social distancing and sanitising. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Police officers are seen breaking up a fight outside a pub in Soho on July 4, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. The UK Government announced that Pubs, Hotels and Restaurants can open from Saturday, July 4th providing they follow guidelines on social distancing and sanitising. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 04: A man is seen being carried on his friend's shoulders in Soho on July 4, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. The UK Government announced that Pubs, Hotels and Restaurants can open from Saturday, July 4th providing they follow guidelines on social distancing and sanitising. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Police officers are seen walking through heavy crowds in Soho on July 4, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. The UK Government announced that Pubs, Hotels and Restaurants can open from Saturday, July 4th providing they follow guidelines on social distancing and sanitising. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Passengers in a taxi are seen laughing as they drive through thick crowds in Soho on July 4, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. The UK Government announced that Pubs, Hotels and Restaurants can open from Saturday, July 4th providing they follow guidelines on social distancing and sanitising. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Revellers are seen drinking in Soho on July 4, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. The UK Government announced that Pubs, Hotels and Restaurants can open from Saturday, July 4th providing they follow guidelines on social distancing and sanitising. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 04: A couple are seen embracing in heavy crowds in Soho on July 4, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. The UK Government announced that Pubs, Hotels and Restaurants can open from Saturday, July 4th providing they follow guidelines on social distancing and sanitising. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in London
A girl plays guitar and a couple kiss under a mural depicting William Shakespeare on the south bank of river Thames, as the capital is set to reopen after the lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak, in London, Saturday, July 4, 2020. England is embarking on perhaps its biggest lockdown easing yet as pubs and restaurants have the right to reopen for the first time in more than three months. In addition to the reopening of much of the hospitality sector, couples can tie the knot once again, while many of those who have had enough of their lockdown hair can finally get a trim. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
Members of the public are seen at a bar in Manchester's Northern Quarter, England, Saturday July 4, 2020. England is embarking on perhaps its biggest lockdown easing yet as pubs and restaurants have the right to reopen for the first time in more than three months. In addition to the reopening of much of the hospitality sector, couples can tie the knot once again, while many of those who have had enough of their lockdown hair can finally get a trim. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, wearing a mask against the spread of the coronavirus, attends a press conference after he clocked the second fastest time during the qualifying session at the Red Bull Ring racetrack in Spielberg, Austria, Saturday, July 4, 2020. The Austrian Formula One Grand Prix will be held on Sunday. (Mario Renzi/Pool via AP)
A member of staff at Solvay Society brewery in Leytonstone pours a beer on the first day of reopening after the lockdown due to the Coronavirus outbreak, in London, Saturday, July 4, 2020. England is embarking on perhaps its biggest lockdown easing yet as pubs and restaurants have the right to reopen for the first time in more than three months. In addition to the reopening of much of the hospitality sector, couples can tie the knot once again, while many of those who have had enough of their lockdown hair can finally get a trim. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
Members of the public are seen at a bar in Manchester's Northern Quarter, England, Saturday July 4, 2020. England is embarking on perhaps its biggest lockdown easing yet as pubs and restaurants have the right to reopen for the first time in more than three months. In addition to the reopening of much of the hospitality sector, couples can tie the knot once again, while many of those who have had enough of their lockdown hair can finally get a trim. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
A member of the public shares a joke with police on Canal Street in Manchester's gay village, England, Saturday July 4, 2020. England is embarking on perhaps its biggest lockdown easing yet as pubs and restaurants have the right to reopen for the first time in more than three months. In addition to the reopening of much of the hospitality sector, couples can tie the knot once again, while many of those who have had enough of their lockdown hair can finally get a trim. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
NHS staff and campaigners on Westminster Bridge take part in a candlelit procession from St Thomas' Hospital, to Downing Street, London where they are holding a vigil for those who have died as a result of coronavirus and marking the 72nd anniversary of the NHS. Each lantern represents 1000 people who have died from COVID-19 in the UK.
The National Theatre draped in tape at the launch of the #MissingLiveTheatre campaign by Scene Change, the collective of British Theatre Designers. This follows advice that its 400 team of casual workers would be laid off. The National Theatre has told its 400-strong team of casual staff that they will lose their jobs in a move it said was unavoidable as the Covid-19 crisis continues to force job losses across the British theatre landscape. (Photo by David Mbiyu / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Pariss Boseley-Yemm holds a thermometer at the reopening of The Salon Leeds, as coronavirus lockdown restrictions are eased across the country, in Leeds, England, Saturday July 4, 2020. Restrictions which were imposed on March 23 have been eased allowing businesses including pubs, restaurants and hair salons, to reopen to members of the public with measures in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (Danny Lawson/PA via AP)
Campaigners hold lanterns outside Downing Street for British NHS medical and care workers who have died due to COVID-19, in London, Friday, July 3, 2020. A number of NHS staff and campaigners carried one lantern to represent people who have died due to COVID-19, as they walked from St. Thomas' Hospital over Westminster Bridge to then hold a candlelit vigil outside Downing Street, where they read out a small number of representative names of NHS staff who died. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Stylist Tommy D'Amour cuts the hair of client Lea Jantz at Tusk Hair in Camden, London, after opening at midnight to the first post-lockdown customer as restrictions are eased across England early Saturday, July 4, 2020. The easing of restrictions, which were imposed on March 23, allows businesses including pubs, restaurants and hair salons, to reopen to members of the public with measures in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (Jonathan Brady/PA via AP)
People riding horses cross the Epsom Downs Racecourse onto the Downs within, in Epsom, England, Friday, July 3, 2020. The Derby annual horse race will take place behind closed doors on upcoming Saturday amid the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
People walk past closed shops in Leicester, England, Tuesday June 30, 2020. The British government has reimposed lockdown restrictions in the English city of Leicester after a spike in coronavirus infections, including the closure of shops that don't sell essential goods and schools. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Protective screens dividing tables at a Wetherspoons pub The Mossy Well in Muswell Hill, London, ahead of pubs reopening on July 4, as further coronavirus lockdown restrictions are lifted in England. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
A protective shield for customers surrounds the card payment machine at the bar of a Wetherspoons pub The Mossy Well in Muswell Hill, London, ahead of pubs reopening on July 4, as further coronavirus lockdown restrictions are lifted in England. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
A member of the army collects a test at a coronavirus testing station set up in Victoria Park in Leicester, England, Tuesday June 30, 2020. The British government has reimposed lockdown restrictions in the English city of Leicester after a spike in coronavirus infections, including the closure of shops that don't sell essential goods and schools. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
People arrive at a walk in coronavirus testing station set up in Spinney Hill park in Leicester, England, Tuesday June 30, 2020. The British government has reimposed lockdown restrictions in the English city of Leicester after a spike in coronavirus infections, including the closure of shops that don't sell essential goods and schools. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
A Caffe Ritazza in Waterloo Station, London as SSP, the company behind railway station and airport chains, is reportedly planning to make more than half of its UK workforce redundant.
A passenger waits at a bus stop with a sign advising travellers to wear a face covering whilst travelling, in London, Friday, June 5, 2020. It will become compulsory to wear face coverings whilst using public transport in England from Monday June 15. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
LEICESTER, ENGLAND - JUNE 29: A city council worker carries rubbish from a coronavirus testing centre at Spinney Park which will be incinerated on June 29, 2020 in Leicester, England. In a television appearance on Sunday, British Home Secretary Priti Patel confirmed the government was considering a local lockdown after a spike in coronavirus cases in the city. The city's mayor has said that Pubs and restaurants in Leicester may stay closed for two more weeks due to a recent surge in coronavirus cases. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
A pedestrian passes a mural thanking key workers for their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic in the centre of Leicester, central England, on June 29, 2020. - The central English city of Leicester could be the country's first to face a local lockdown due to a rise in coronavirus cases, the UK's Home Secretary Priti Patel said on June 28. The Midlands city recorded 658 new cases in the two weeks up to June 16, many linked to fresh outbreaks at food production plants. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
LEICESTER, ENGLAND - JUNE 29: A woman wearing a PPE mask walks past social distance advisory singns in Leicester's North Evington neighbourhood on June 29, 2020 in Leicester, England. In a television appearance on Sunday, British Home Secretary Priti Patel confirmed the government was considering a local lockdown after a spike in coronavirus cases in the city. The city's mayor has said that Pubs and restaurants in Leicester may stay closed for two more weeks due to a recent surge in coronavirus cases. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
A pedestrian walks past a stencilled message reminding people to practice social distancing as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19 in the centre of Leicester, central England, on June 29, 2020. - The central English city of Leicester could be the country's first to face a local lockdown due to a rise in coronavirus cases, the UK's Home Secretary Priti Patel said on June 28. The Midlands city recorded 658 new cases in the two weeks up to June 16, many linked to fresh outbreaks at food production plants. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
A Coronavirus testing station has been set up in Victoria Park Leicester
A member of staff at the Apple store in Edinburgh's Princes Street takes the temperature of a customer before entering as non-essential stores across the country reopen today as part of Scotland's phased plan to ease out of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
Members of the public in Leicester City Centre as speculation grows about a localised lockdown in Leicester a localised lockdown in Leicester
John Turner, landlord of The Dolphin pub in Llanymynech, where the border for England and Wales runs along the A483. Drinking establishments on one side of the A road such as The Cross Keys and The Bradford Arms will welcome customers on Saturday 4th July, however The Dolphin, a pub yards inside the Welsh border remains closed.
Social distancing signage at a store in Llanymynech, where the border for England and Wales runs along the A483. Drinking establishments on one side of the A road such as The Cross Keys and The Bradford Arms will welcome customers on Saturday 4th July, however The Dolphin, a pub yards inside the Welsh border remains closed.
A person in their car looks on as they make their way through the lion reserve at Blair Drummond Safari Park, near Stirling, which reopens today as part of Scotland's phased plan to ease out of the coronavirus lockdown.
Labour Leader Keir Starmer joins in a games lesson during a visit to Torriano School in Camden, north London, where he saw the work teachers are doing to keep children educated during lockdown.
Zoo keepers feed the penguins as members of the public visit Edinburgh Zoo, which reopens today as part of Scotland's phased plan to ease out of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: Pride in London show parade highlights on the Picadilly screen at Picadilly Circus on June 27, 2020 in London, England. In line with government guideline, the annual Pride parade had to be cancelled this year due to the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for Pride in London)
Coronavirus: UK economy could be among worst hit of leading nations, says OECD
Coronavirus: UK economy could be among worst hit of leading nations, says OECD
View of No.1 Court at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in west London on June 27, 2020 the weekend before the Wimbledon Championships tennis tournament were due to start on June 29. - There was none of the usual bustle of preparations the Saturday before the top tennis stars would normally decend on Wimbledon for The Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis Club. The Championships, which were due to start on June 29, have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Bob MARTIN / AELTC / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo by BOB MARTIN/AELTC/AFP via Getty Images)
Businesses are opening in the area of Brick Lane, east London as the British Government has eased the lockdown measures, due to the coronavirus outbreak, London on June 27, 2020. (Photo by Alberto Pezzali/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Coronavirus: UK towns and cities warn of potential bankruptcy due to pandemic
Rubbish that has been collected by locals at Tynemouth beach in north east England, after a busy day there yesterday. (Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images)
A woman wearing a face mask walks amid shoppers on Oxford Street in heatwave conditions in London, England, on June 25, 2020. Temperatures rose to 33C in parts of London today, in what has been one of the UK's hottest days of the year so far. Central London was nonetheless busy with shoppers this afternoon as the retail sector mounts its comeback after coronavirus lockdown restrictions on non-essential shops were eased at the beginning of last week. Among retailers, confidence is reportedly low that recovery will be swift, however, with a survey from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) today revealing fears of reduced consumer demand as well as operational challenges such as staff absences and transport difficulties. (Photo by David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A man wearing a face mask stands on Oxford Street in heatwave conditions in London, England, on June 25, 2020. Temperatures rose to 33C in parts of London today, in what has been one of the UK's hottest days of the year so far. Central London was nonetheless busy with shoppers this afternoon as the retail sector mounts its comeback after coronavirus lockdown restrictions on non-essential shops were eased at the beginning of last week. Among retailers, confidence is reportedly low that recovery will be swift, however, with a survey from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) today revealing fears of reduced consumer demand as well as operational challenges such as staff absences and transport difficulties. (Photo by David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
SOUTHEND-ON-SEA, ENGLAND - JUNE 25: People with face masks sit on the sea wall at the beach on June 25, 2020 in Southend-on-Sea, England. The UK is experiencing a summer heatwave, with temperatures in many parts of the country expected to rise above 30C and weather warnings in place for thunderstorms at the end of the week. (Photo by John Keeble/Getty Images)
A hand-made sign alongside the A82 road in Glencoe, Highlands, as Scotland moves into the second phase of its four-step plan to ease out of lockdown.
Hand-made signs warning people to consider the local community alongside the road in Ballachulish in the Highlands as Scotland moves into the second phase of its four-step plan to ease out of lockdown.
Operations supervisor Dave Warren sprays social distance measure signs on the ground in the new World of Dinosaurs attraction explaining social distancing measures at Blair Drummond Safari Park near Stirling where staff are preparing to open the attraction on June 29 as part of Scotland's phased release of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
Operations supervisor Dave Warren cleans hand rails at the sea lion pool explaining social distancing measures at Blair Drummond Safari Park near Stirling where staff are preparing to open the attraction on June 29 as part of Scotland's phased release of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
Operations supervisor Dave Warren installs signs in the rhino yard explaining social distancing measures at Blair Drummond Safari Park near Stirling where staff are preparing to open the attraction on June 29 as part of Scotland's phased release of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.
A coronavirus prevention sign in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, as Thursday could be the UK's hottest day of the year with scorching temperatures forecast to rise even further.
A woman wearing PPE (personal protective equipment), of a face mask or covering as a precautionary measure against spreading COVID-19, arrives on the beach in the sea in Southend on Sea, south east England, on June 24, 2020. - Just days after lockdown ended and European travel restrictions were lifted, many were staying home in the cool Tuesday as a heatwave hit the continent with temperatures touching 40 degrees Celcius. Britain was bracing for a flood of visitors to its beaches with the heatwave expected to last until Friday and temperatures set to climb into the mid-30s in the south and centre of the country. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
PORTHCAWL, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 24: An aerial drone camera view of Sandy Bay beach and Coney Beach pleasure park which remains closed due to coronavirus restrictions as the Met Office warn temperatures could reach 34 degrees this week on June 24, 2020 in Porthcawl, United Kingdom. The First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford has announced that all non-essential shops will be allowed to open their doors again in Wales from Monday but people will be asked to continue to "stay local" with five miles given as guidance until July 6. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
An employee at Marwell Zoo in Hampshire paints social distancing markers in the shape of a paw print outside the Amur Tigers enclosure, as the zoo prepares to reopen to the public from Monday June 29, as further coronavirus lockdown restrictions are lifted in England. (Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images)
Crowds of people gather in Woolton Village, Liverpool and drink alcohol served from local food outlets as further coronavirus lockdown restrictions are lifted in England.
People enjoying the weather on the beach in Bournemouth as cruise liner docked in the background following the Coronavirus outbreak.
AFC Bournemouth substitutes stand for a minute's silence in memory of the victims of the coronavirus before the Premier League match at the Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth.
General view of empty walkway towards the Amex Stadium ahead of the game against Arsenal during the Premier League match back following the Coronavirus outbreak.
Players and officials stand for a minute's silence in memory of the victims of the coronavirus before the Premier League match at the London Stadium.
Steven Butterly from Azurablu Scotland Ltd during an electrostatic disinfection clean which follows a deep clean at Ross Sales and Lettings in Glasgow. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
A customer enters a branch of Greggs in Winchester, Hampshire, as the bakery chain reopens 800 stores across the UK following the easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions. (Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images)
Primark staff in the Belfast city centre store as it opens its doors to customers for the first time since coronavirus lockdown restrictions were imposed in March. (Photo by Brian Lawless/PA Images via Getty Images)
A customer queues outside Primark in Belfast as some non-essential shops in Northern Ireland open their doors to customers for the first time since coronavirus lockdown restrictions were imposed in March. (Photo by Brian Lawless/PA Images via Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 17: Enda Stevens of Sheffield United during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park on June 17, 2020 in Birmingham, United Kingdom. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)
A general view shows jockeys returning from the unplaced finishers on day two of the Royal Ascot horse racing meet, in Ascot, west of London, on June 17, 2020, which is taking place behind 'closed doors' due to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ALAN CROWHURST/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
A sign reminding people that the Toilets are hangs at the Kenilworth Castle fence during its reopening. Six sites managed by the English Heritage have reopened to the public this week after closing amid the coronavirus outbreak. Kenilworth Castle and Elizabethan Gardens in Warwickshire are some of the six sites that have adopted a one way system around the whole site, with separate entrance and exit points, along with social distancing markers. (Photo by Keith Mayhew / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The report also stated a number of opportunities had been missed by the Government in January, February and March to try and lessen the impact of the gathering crisis.

Controversy has raged over the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for NHS staff, and low levels of testing as the disease took hold.

Mr Gove said: "The idea that the Prime Minister skipped meetings that were vital to our response to the coronavirus, I think is grotesque.

"The Prime Minister took all the major decisions.

"Nobody can say that the Prime Minister wasn't throwing heart and soul into fighting this virus. His leadership has been clear.

"He's been inspirational at times."

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth later argued that Mr Gove's line that one or two aspects of The Sunday Times story were off beam is "possibly the weakest rebuttal of a detailed expose in British political history".

He told Sky's Sophy Ridge on Sunday: "There are serious questions as to why the Prime Minister skipped five Cobra meetings throughout February, when the whole world could see how serious this was becoming.

"And we know that serious mistakes have been made, we know that our front-line NHS staff don't have the PPE, that they've been told this weekend that they won't necessarily have the gowns which are vital to keep them safe. We know that our testing capacity is not at the level that is needed.

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson, pictured on April 2, was accused by Labour of being 'missing in action' at the start of the coronavirus crisis (Pippa Fowles/Crown Copyright/10 Downing Street/PA)

"We know that the ventilators that many hospitals have received are the wrong types of ventilators and there are big questions as to whether we went into this lockdown too slowly, and now we hear the Prime Minister missed five meetings at the start of this outbreak. It suggests that early on he was missing in action."

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said a shipment of PPE that is due to arrive in the country is "a few days' supply" and "may be enough to avert an absolute crisis over this weekend", but added that "it doesn't solve the longer term problem".

Meanwhile, speaking about Mr Johnson's health following his treatment for coronavirus, Mr Gove said: "The Prime Minister is recovering well. He's in cheerful spirits.

"He had the opportunity to talk to Dominic Raab, his deputy, the First Secretary of State, on Friday.

"And the Prime Minister's instructions to the rest of us in Government were communicated by the First Secretary of State when we had a conference call yesterday morning."

Mr Johnson was treated for Covid-19 in intensive care at St Thomas' Hospital in London earlier this month and is now recuperating at his country estate Chequers.

Read Full Story Click here to comment

FROM OUR PARTNERS