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Wed, 25 November 2020

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Number 10 distances itself from Grant Shapps' call for people to shop just once a week during lockdown

Number 10 distances itself from Grant Shapps' call for people to shop just once a week during lockdown

Grant Shapps said people should only leave their homes once a week to purchase essentials

3 min read

Downing Street has slapped down suggestions by Grant Shapps that people should only go shopping for food once a week during the coronavirus lockdown.

The Prime Minister's spokesperson was forced to issue the clarification after the Transport Secretary caused further confusion around the Government's lockdown measures.

According to official advice published by the Cabinet Office, the public have been advsied to visit shops as "infrequently as possible" to buy food and medicine, but does not give any stricter instructions.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Shapps said there had been "teething problems" with the advice, but added: "People know the rules that have been set, try and shop just once a week.

"Just do the essential, not everything else."

But asked about the comments, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister said the remarks were not consistent with the government's own guidelines.

"The guidance doesn't specify that, no. The guidance says that it should be as infrequently as possible," they said.

"For some people I am sure their judgement will be once a week, but it is not what the guidance specifies."

Speaking to ITV's Good Morning Britain, Mr Shapps also defended the Government's decision not to impose further restrictions on those travelling to work after Labour and other opposition parties called for non-essential firms, such as construction sites and call centers, to be shut.

The Cabinet Minister said sending all non-essential workers home could make it "impossible or very difficult to pick up again afterwards" as he said the measures had to be "careful not to completely crash the economy".

He added: "We have been straightforward and said, if you're a key worker go out, but if you can't do your job from home then it is acceptable to go out and do that work.

"Otherwise, we will be in a position where we can't restart the economy and millions of people will be forced into a poverty situation that would do more harm than the virus itself. That's really the balance."

But the Downing Street spokesperson insisted the current measures were based on medical advice and that ministers would not rule out further restrictions if necessary to slow the spread of the virus.

"Well you can see from what we are doing is taking steps to protect the NHS to give it the best chance of coping with this pandemic," they said.

"By doing this we will save lives, at the same time recognising we have to take unprecedented steps to protect the economy and to standby our workers who are being asked to make very significant sacrifices in order to save lives.

"The basis on which we have taken the decisions on social distancing is scientific and medical advice. We have said that at such time when the medical or scientific advice is that we have to go further then that is what we are prepared to do."

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