It’s hard to believe a year has passed since Covid-19 first took over the headlines in the UK.

The UK prepares to mark the anniversary of the first lockdown later this month.

Now insiders are highlighting the actions that the government took in the earliest days of the crisis. With hindsight and what we know now, a lot of these comments have not aged well.

Boris Johnson said the UK should “ignore” the spread of Covid-19. The prime minister also warned an “overreaction” to the threat could do more harm than good, according to the BBC report.

The Prime Minister was then also told to follow government advice to stop shaking hands. It led to the infamous clip where he talked about his trip to visit Covid patients in hospital. He bragged: “I’ve shaken hands with everybody.”

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “The prime minister was very clear at the time he was taking a number of precautionary steps, including frequently washing his hands. Once the social distancing advice changed, the prime minister’s approach changed.”

It wasn’t long before Boris himself was hospitalised with the coronavirus.


A source told the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg: “The general view was it is just hysteria. It was just like a flu”. They also noticed a “lack of concern and energy”.

An unnamed Cabinet minister is also vehemently against the decision to open up the economy in the summer, and the likes of the Eat Out To Help Out Scheme. They also slammed the reluctance to lockdown again, as infection rates rose sharply.

The minister says: “We knew there was going to be a second wave and there was a row about whether people should work from home or not. It was totally ridiculous,”

“Struggled To Persuade”

Laurs Kuenssberg also claims “a small group inside Downing Street repeatedly tried to change Johnson’s mind” in September, trying to convince him to lock down. It’s said they struggled to persuade him.

Another low moment for the Prime Minister came in February last year.

Boris Johnson missed multiple Cobra meetings, as he relaxed at home for 12 days.

He now faces anger for not holding a public inquiry into the numerous mistakes that were made.

The BBC also says there was a “genuine argument” in Number 10 over whether to hope that “herd immunity” would be established. That would involve allowing the virus to rage through the population – potentially with many more deaths.

“Chicken Pox Parties”

It’s also claimed there was even talk of “chicken pox parties”.

This involves people being encouraged to deliberately spread the disease to each other in order to spread antibodies.

Sage papers from July read: “Current behavioural data suggest that there is still ample room for the Government to reduce their likelihood by actively encouraging implementation of as many of the mitigations recommended by Sage as possible.

“Wherever possible, the most effective measures should be used to avoid or substitute risky contacts (e.g. by home-working and self-isolation).”

On September 1st, Boris then said: “People are going back to the office in huge numbers up and down the country — and quite right, too.”

Do you think the government should have done more?

Or do you think they did what they thought was right at the time?

Image via Alamy