Gove: 'island communities' could pilot easing of coronavirus lockdown

Could Cornwall, the Isle of Wight and the Hebrides be the first out of lockdown? Michael Gove suggests ‘island communities’ could pilot easing of coronavirus restrictions using contact tracing BEFORE the rest of the UK

  • He said isolated areas could be used as test beds before a UK-wide roll-out
  • Wight has ferry services from Lymington, Southampton and Portsmouth
  • Gove told MPs ‘there is a specific scientific justification’ for pilots on islands
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Island communities like the Isle of Wight could be used to pilot measures that could allow the Government to ease the lockdown across the whole UK, Michael Gove has suggested.

The Cabinet Office Minister told MPs isolated areas where it is easy to control movement in and out could be used as test beds for measures that could then be used on a larger scale.

Speaking to the Commons’ public administration and constitutional affairs committee he tried to distance the Government from the idea that different regions and nations of the UK could ease the lockdown at the same rate.

He said: ‘My own personal view is that it is preferable if we do it (lift the lockdown) as one United Kingdom.

‘But there is a specific scientific justification for saying that island communities can be areas where you could pilot some measures, contact tracing in particular, in order to combine that with relaxing measures at a progressively greater rate.

‘That can help you judge what is right for the country overall.’

However, such plans are likely to encounter stiff opposition from locals who may object to being used as guinea pigs. 

The Cabinet Office Minister told MPs isolated areas where it is easy to control movement in and out could be used as test beds for measures that could then be used on a larger scale.

Cornwall and its picturesque holiday resorts like St Ives (pictured) could be used as test beds for lockdown-easing measures elsewhere. But the locals are unlikely to enjoy being used as guinea pigs

The Island of Wight is connected to the mainland by ferry and hovercraft services from Lymington, Southampton and Portsmouth

In happier times tourists enjoy the beach in Ventnor on the south coast of the Isle of Wight

Cornwall has only two main trunk roads and one main rail line coming in and out which could allow access to be regulated. Pictured are the River Tamar road and rail bridges linking it to Devon

The Island of Wight is connected to the mainland by ferry and hovercraft services from Lymington, Southampton and Portsmouth, which would be easy to regulate.

The island off the south coast is already being used for a pilot scheme involving drones flying hospital supplies across the Solent. 

The ‘island communities’ idea could also be extended to parts of the mainland such as Cornwall, sources told the Telegraph.

The south west part of Britain has only two main trunk roads and one main rail line coming in and out which could allow access to be regulated. 

It came as Boris Johnson prepared to signal the lockdown will stay until June as he gathers Cabinet this morning to thrash out an ‘exit strategy’ – and then fronts a daily coronavirus briefing for the first time since falling ill.

The Prime Minister is expected to dash hopes of an imminent end to the draconian curbs crippling the economy, stressing that allowing the killer disease to run rampant again would do even worse damage.

Government sources have indicated he will also defy calls to treat the public like ‘grown ups’ by spelling out ways in which the lockdown might be eased, saying it is ‘too early’.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said in interviews this morning that the mood among ministers was ‘extreme caution’, endorsing a strong hint from Nicola Sturgeon that restrictions will be extended for another three weeks when the formal review takes place on May 7.

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