Coronavirus: Labour urges Boris Johnson to stop ‘winging it’ over easing restrictions

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LONDON: Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has warned that Boris Johnson’s “mismanagement” of the easing of virus restrictions risks a second wave of infections. In a Guardian interview, he urged the PM to “get a grip” and restore public confidence in ministers’ handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

But No 10 said it was proceeding with caution to secure a safe recovery. It comes as the government is to outline further details of its quarantine plans later.

Sir Keir Starmer

Sir Keir said while Labour wanted to see society re-open and businesses begin to get back on their feet, he had deep misgivings about the approach in England, compared with that in Wales and Scotland.

He said children had returned to schools before the system for identifying new cases and tracing their contacts was fully up and running. He also complained that public health officials had been given no notice of the changes to shielding advice for the most vulnerable – which was announced a month before a review had been due to take place.

“After a week or more of mismanagement, I’m deeply concerned the government has made a difficult situation 10 times worse,” he said. “We’ve called for an exit strategy. What we appear to have got is an exit without a strategy.”

He warned that trust in the government had been “burnt” at a crucial time by the controversy surrounding the PM’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings and whether he broke the lockdown rules. “Like many people across the country, there is a growing concern the government is now winging it,” Sir Keir said.

A Downing Street spokesman said its focus was on “helping the country recover safely from coronavirus and restoring the livelihoods of millions of people across the country. Now is the time to look to the future and not the past, as we continue to fight this virus while taking cautious steps to ease restrictions. The PM looks forward to hearing any concrete proposals Labour has to offer.”