Ministers add to confusion over England’s second lockdown

Cabinet ministers have created confusion about the rules which will apply when England's second national lockdown begins on Thursday.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick suggested that an entire household could meet up with a friend, before then contradicting himself.

And Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove apologised after incorrectly indicating that people could play a round of golf or game of tennis with a friend.

Boris Johnson's Government is also under pressure from Nicola Sturgeon to clarify whether the furlough scheme could be extended further if Scotland decides to follow England into a lockdown.

The Prime Minister has been criticised over his handling of the second lockdown, which was announced at a hastily-arranged press conference on Saturday after some of the details leaked, and it appeared on Tuesday that not all ministers are fully on top of the new arrangements.

30 PHOTOS
Pictures of the week: November 1 - 7
See Gallery
Pictures of the week: November 1 - 7
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 05: A plane prepares to land at Heathrow Airport with the moon behind it on November 05, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
A cyclist wearing a face mask passes traditional red phone boxes, on the first day of Britain's second lockdown designed to save its health care system from being overwhelmed by people with coronavirus, in London, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. Britain joined large swathes of Europe in a coronavirus lockdown designed to save its health care system from being overwhelmed. Pubs, along with restaurants, hairdressers and shops selling non-essential items closed on Thursday until at least Dec. 2. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
A woman is detained by police from 'The Million Mask March', an annual event described as a march "against austerity, the infringement of rights, war crimes, corrupt politicians and to reinstate liberty", gather in Trafalgar Square in central London, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. The march was taking place on the same day national lockdown rules come into force as Britain joined large swathes of Europe in a coronavirus lockdown designed to save its health care system from being overwhelmed. Pubs, along with restaurants, hairdressers and shops selling non-essential items closed on Thursday until at least Dec. 2. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
A participant in 'The Million Mask March', an annual event described as a march "against austerity, the infringement of rights, war crimes, corrupt politicians and to reinstate liberty", gathers in central London, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. The march was taking place on the same day national lockdown rules come into force as Britain joined large swathes of Europe in a coronavirus lockdown designed to save its health care system from being overwhelmed. Pubs, along with restaurants, hairdressers and shops selling non-essential items closed on Thursday until at least Dec. 2. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
A man with a religious sandwich board waits to cross a junction on Oxford Street on the first day of Britain's second lockdown, designed to save its health care system from being overwhelmed by people with coronavirus, in London, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. Britain joined large swathes of Europe in a coronavirus lockdown designed to save its health care system from being overwhelmed. Pubs, along with restaurants, hairdressers and shops selling non-essential items closed on Thursday until at least Dec. 2. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Police patrol in Trafalgar Square ahead of a possible anti-lockdown protest in central London, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. Britain joined large swathes of Europe in a coronavirus lockdown designed to save its health care system from being overwhelmed. Pubs, along with restaurants, hairdressers and shops selling non-essential items closed on Thursday until at least Dec. 2. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 04: Members of the public view a 45ft tall giant golden monkey on the side of Inverleith house on November 04, 2020 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The inflatable Golden Monkey installation, by Australian ecological artist Lisa Roet, has previously adorned scaled skyscrapers in Beijing and Hong Kong. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Blackpool's annual Illuminations are seen before being switched off at midnight on Wednesday because of the four-week lockdown, Blackpool, England, Wednesday Nov. 4, 2020. The illuminations were due to remain lit for an extra two months this season, until Jan. 3, to aid the town's tourism trade hit by COVID-19 restrictions. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
The sun rises over Houghton on the Hill in Leicestershire on the first day of a second national lockdown for England. (Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 04: Police officers warn people who continue to spend their times at a street as the 2nd national lockdown, which was announced to imposed to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, begins in central London, United Kingdom on November 04, 2020. One person was detained during the police officers interventions. (Photo by Hasan Esen/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
People sitting outside the Cock and Lion pub in Marylebone on the eve of the 2nd Lockdown in London. Pubs and restaurants to close as England forced into new national coronavirus lockdown. (Photo by Dave Rushen / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Commuters on a Jubilee Line Underground train at Canning Town station, London, at 0720 in the morning rush hour at the start of a four week national lockdown for England. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
A rainbow appears over an oast house, near Hawkhurst in Kent, England, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. Oast houses are a distinctive feature of the Kent and Sussex landscape and were constructed originally to dry the harvested mature hops used as an ingredient in brewing beer. (Gareth Fuller/PA via AP)
Graffiti of a woman with an axe part of the Halloween Paint Jam seen at the famous Leake Street Tunnel under Waterloo station (Photo by Dave Rushen / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
A view of the RRS Sir David Attenborough, the UK's most advanced polar research ship, as it travels down the River Mersey leaving Liverpool ahead of two weeks of technical trials off the coast of north Wales, with one of Anthony Gormley "Another Place" sculptures in the foreground, in Liverpool, England, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP)
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks back towards10 Downing Street following a cabinet meeting in London, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. The Cabinet meeting is held in the Foreign Office to allow for social distancing due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, rather than the normal 10 Downing Street. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Members of staff poses with a grey limestone Buddha head from the 7th century Tang Dynasty (estimated GBP80,000-120,000) in the fine Chinese art section of the Asian Art Week collection at Bonhams auction house on New Bond Street in London, England, on November 2, 2020. The sale takes place on November 5. (Photo by David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
EDITORIAL USE ONLY The Carnaby Christmas installation this year is titled Choose Love In Carnaby and is in collaboration with charity Choose Love. A series of pink neon light boxes are suspended the length of Carnaby Street that beam poignant words of hope. The words pay tribute to the strength and courage of Londoners and the whole of the UK. Other words of empowerment include believe, heal, brave, dream, faith, together and family.
As the UK reacts to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's announcement of Lockdown 2 during the second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic, face shields and masks are on sale in a window of a retailer on Oxford Street, on 2nd November 2020, in London, England. From midnight on Thursday, all non-essential shops, bars, restaurants and other small businesses will have to closed, according to government Covid restrictions - and for a minimum of 4 weeks in the run-up to Christmas. (Photo by Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images)
Johnny Depp fan, Matty, dressed as Gellert Grindelwald, the character Depp plays in the third Fantastic Beasts movie which is currently being filmed, reacts as he hears Depp had lost his libel case, outside the High Court in London, Monday, Nov. 2, 2020. Britain's High Court has ruled against Johnny Depp in his libel action against the owner of the Sun tabloid over allegations that he was a "wife beater." (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
LEEDS, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 02: Jamie Vardy of Leicester City shakes hands with Brendan Rodgers, Manager of Leicester City after being substituted during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Leicester City at Elland Road on November 02, 2020 in Leeds, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Jon Super - Pool/Getty Images)
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson waves at the media as he leaves 10 Downing Street in London, to go to the Houses of Parliament to deliver a statement on England's upcoming coronavirus lockdown, Monday, Nov. 2, 2020. Johnson on Saturday announced a new month-long lockdown for England that will start on Thursday, after being warned that without tough action a resurgent coronavirus outbreak will overwhelm hospitals in weeks. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
The London Eye is seen lit up Red, White and Blue to celebrate The Pride of Britain Awards 2020. (Photo by Brett Cove / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Shoppers queue outside the IKEA store in Greenwich, London before the 2nd Lockdown in England starts on the 5th of November meaning all non essential shops will have to shut for up to a month. (Photo by Dave Rushen / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Several hundreds of demonstrators protest in Piccadilly Circus against Poland's top court ruling that abortion of fetuses with congenital defects is unconstitutional, on 01 November, 2020 in London, England. Poland's abortion laws are already among the strictest in Europe and the recent decision by the Constitutional Court further limits access to abortions, which will only be legal in cases of rape or incest, or to protect the mother's life. (Photo by WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A newborn grey seal pup on the beach at Horsey in Norfolk, as the pupping season begins at one the UK's most important sites for the mammals.
Tottenham's Gareth Bale, centre, heads the ball to score his team's second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Brighton & Hove Albion at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. (Julian Finney/Pool via AP)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 01: Stormzy performs on stage during McDonald's I'm Lovin' It Live at The Printworks on November 01, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Referee Graham Scott consults with VAR before awarding a goal to Brighton's Tariq Lamptey during the English Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Brighton & Hove Albion at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. (Mike Hewitt/Pool via AP)
Manchester City's Lucy Bronze, left, and Keira Walsh, right, celebrate with Manchester City's manager Gareth Taylor, center, after winning the Women's FA Cup final soccer match between Everton and Manchester City at Wembley stadium in London, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. (Facundo Arrizabalaga/Pool via AP)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The official guidance states that people in England can exercise or visit outdoor public places either with their household or one person from another household – although children under school-age with a parent will not count towards the limit on two people meeting outside.

On BBC Breakfast, Mr Jenrick suggested households could go for a walk with one other person, and was questioned on this.

Presenter Louise Minchin said: "I think I heard you say that outside you can be one household, plus one other person, is that what you meant and is that right?"

Mr Jenrick replied: "Yes, that's right."

Ms Minchin said: "So a family could go for a walk, with, for example, a friend?"

The Housing Secretary answered: "Yes."

However, when Ms Minchin pressed him, asking whether this applied to four people and one person, Mr Jenrick said: "Yes, so you can go out in your own household, or with one other person."

Mr Gove admitted his mistake after wrongly suggesting that people would be able to play singles tennis or golf in pairs during the impending lockdown.

During an online question and answer session with his constituents on Monday, the MP for Surrey Heath suggested it would be possible to play singles tennis.

The Cabinet Office minister also said "we are looking at" allowing people to play golf with one other person, despite Mr Johnson so far resisting calls for golf courses to remain open.

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

On Tuesday morning, Mr Gove apologised for the comments on Twitter, including a link to the Government guidance.

"My apologies, I got this wrong," he said. "Outdoor leisure facilities including tennis courts and golf courses will be closed from Thursday."

England's lockdown will end on December 2, with the Government hoping to reintroduce a localised tiered system of restrictions.

Mr Johnson hopes that a mass testing campaign, using equipment which can deliver a result in a matter of minutes, could be a route out of the coronavirus crisis.

A pilot scheme in Liverpool will see half a million people offered regular testing from Friday, with 2,000 military personnel helping with the logistics.

The Prime Minister said that, depending on the success of rapid turnaround tests in the pilot, the aim is to distribute millions of them between now and Christmas to "empower local communities to use them to drive down transmission in their areas".

The Department of Health said further detail would be released by Liverpool City Council this week on how residents and workers will be able to access the tests, and did not give any more information on how regular the testing would be.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said local leaders had made it clear to the Government that they are "keen that we should be considered for any new strategies to tackle the worrying rise in Covid-19".

The aim is to use new rapid turnaround tests – alongside existing swab tests, and Lamp (loop-mediated isothermal amplification) technology for NHS staff – to find asymptomatic cases in order to help prevent and reduce transmission in the community.

Mr Johnson said: "These tests will help identify the many thousands of people in the city who don't have symptoms but can still infect others without knowing.

"Dependent on their success in Liverpool, we will aim to distribute millions of these new rapid tests between now and Christmas and empower local communities to use them to drive down transmission in their areas.

"It is early days, but this kind of mass testing has the potential to be a powerful new weapon in our fight against Covid-19."

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Mr Johnson was chairing a meeting of his Cabinet on Tuesday ahead of MPs voting on the lockdown measures on Wednesday.

Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty are due to face questions from MPs on Tuesday afternoon when they appear before the Science and Technology Committee.

The Government has extended the furlough scheme until December to coincide with England's lockdown.

We need clarity on this urgently today. I'm sorry to say that @scotgov has no more detail now than we did before PM statement yesterday. Woolly words don't pay people's wages. #furloughhttps://t.co/pw5sWe1RDX

— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) November 3, 2020

Mr Johnson told Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross on Monday that "if other parts of the UK decide to go into measures which require the furlough scheme then of course it's available to them, that has to be right and that applies not just now but of course in the future as well".

Scotland First Minister Ms Sturgeon said "we need clarity on this urgently today", adding that "woolly words don't pay people's wages".

Read Full Story Click here to comment

FROM OUR PARTNERS