BORIS Johnson has set up a special war Cabinet to fight the coronavirus crisis as ministers unveiled emergency new powers.
Executing a major gear change, the PM threw the government on to a military footing after the true scale of the crisis emerged.
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He told a meeting of the Cabinet that the nation was “engaged in a war against the disease which we have to win”.
Later, at his daily press conference, Boris added: “We must act like any wartime government”.
Under the new plan, the PM and his top team of four senior ministers – Rishi Sunak, Matt Hancock, Michael Gove and Dominic Raab – will meet daily to coordinate the fight, in a group known as ‘the C-19’.
It came as ministers last night unveiled a new law to enact sweeping powers for officials and forces to fight the bug’s spread.
They include allowing police and Border Force officers to arrest suspected virus sufferers and put them in isolation.
‘WAR AGAINST THE DISEASE’
The law also allows for more phone and video hearings in court so the justice system can keep going.
And officials will also be able to suspend all plane and ship arrivals at airports or ports or there aren’t enough staff to maintain border security.
It also enacts pension changes so retired doctors and nurses can come back into the NHS without their retirement cash suffering.
The new legislation will be rushed through Parliament from Thursday. The new powers will be strictly time limited to 12 months, or as long as the crisis lasts.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We are doing everything we can to protect lives and support the NHS, guided by the best scientists and clinicians in the world.
“The new measures we will be introducing in the Emergency Coronavirus Bill this week will only be used when it is absolutely necessary and must be timed to maximise their effectiveness, but crucially they give the government the powers it needs to protect lives.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick also announced £3.2m in emergency funding to help rough sleepers to self-isolate.
Councils will be reimbursed for the cost of providing accommodation and services to rough sleepers who are suffering.
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