Sitting feet apart, the panellists on tonight’s Question Time took no chances as they followed ‘social distancing’ guidelines amid the coronavirus outbreak.
And for the first time, the BBC debate show – broadcast from the Somerset seaside town of Weston-super-Mare – was filmed without a studio audience.
Instead, the programme asked viewers to send in questions on social media, and featured a group of panellists sitting without the usual Question Time desk.
The BBC’s Question Time tonight featured (From left) National Institute for Health Research chair of neurology Tom Solomon, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady, Health Secretary Matt Hancock, host Fiona Bruce, Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and chef Angela Hartnett
Host Fiona Bruce was joined by TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady, Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Manchester mayor Andy Burnham.
Also on the hour-long programme from 8pm tonight was chef Angela Hartnett and National Institute for Health Research chair of neurology Tom Solomon.
During the show, Mr Hancock announced that 2.6million masks and 10,000 bottles of hand sanitiser have been shipped to the UK in the past 24 hours.
He promised that every hospital would have a fresh delivery by the end of Sunday.
‘Overnight we’re going to get 150 hospitals the next pack of protective equipment that they need,’ Mr Hancock said.
During the show, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that 2.6million masks and 10,000 bottles of hand sanitiser have been shipped to the UK in the past 24 hours
Mr Hancock also admitted he could not live on statutory sick pay, but suggested an improvement could come with fresh measures to tackle the coronavirus crisis.
The Cabinet minister bluntly dismissed the prospect with a ‘no’ when he was asked on BBC’s Question Time if he could get by on the sum of £94.25 per week.
But he suggested more on the subject could come when Chancellor Rishi Sunak makes a further announcement on financial measures to tackle the economic fallout from the pandemic tomorrow.
‘I’m not going to prejudge what the Chancellor’s going to say tomorrow, but all I can say is: mark my words, we will do everything we can to make sure people are supported through this,’ he said.
Mr Sunak was under increasing pressure to announce measures to support workers and renters after announcing Government-backed loans worth £330billion to shore up companies.
The BBC programme asked viewers to send in questions on social media, and featured a group of panellists sitting without the usual desk – spaced out either side of Fiona Bruce (pictured)
The Government has already made sure sick payments are delivered to workers earlier, but the statuary sum has come under fresh scrutiny over whether it is sufficient.
There are fears workers may not self-isolate with Covid-19 symptoms to halt the spread because they do not want to take the financial blow of lost wages.
Mr Hancock also tried to allay doctors’ fears that they are lacking the protective equipment and ventilators they needed to deal with the coronavirus crisis.
A junior doctor in Weston-super-Mare told him her colleagues are ‘frightened’ of ending up in a situation similar to Italy’s in a few weeks and asked how equipment would be rationed when the NHS becomes ‘overwhelmed’.
Mr Hancock said a ‘massive effort’ was under way to deliver personal protective equipment to NHS staff and social care providers.
‘I can tell you that over the last 24 hours we’ve shipped 2.6 million masks, 10,000 bottles of hand sanitiser, and we have a growing effort to get that equipment to the frontline,’ he said.
‘Overnight we’re going to get 150 hospitals the next pack of protective equipment that they need. We’ve got all this in storage in case there’s a pandemic like this and there are literally lorries on the road right now.
‘Some hospitals will get it overnight tonight and then the rest will get their next load before the end of the weekend.’
The Cabinet minister assured that the Government has had an ‘amazing response’ to a call-out for manufacturers to turn their efforts to make ventilators, which are seen as essential to saving lives from Covid-19.
He said 1,400 companies have come forward to say they are able to turn their capabilities to the task.
BBC announces coronavirus ‘wartime mode’ revamp with health advice on The One Show, virtual church services, school programming for pupils… and the return of Spooks, The Missing and a string of classic boxsets on iPlayer
The BBC has announced a raft of programming changes for the coronavirus crisis, including health advice on The One Show and virtual church services.
The broadcaster, which has suspended filming of Eastenders and other top dramas, will also add boxsets to the iPlayer including Spooks, The Missing and French and Saunders.
BBC director general Tony Hall said the national broadcaster had a ‘special role to play at this time of national need.’
The One Show will be ‘a consumer programme show for all aspects of the crisis,’ including ‘health and wellbeing advice, keeping fit and healthy eating tips’
Box sets to be made available include Spooks (pictured), The Missing, Waking the Dead, French and Saunders, Wallander and The Honourable Woman
Newsround bulletins for children will remain throughout the day on CBBC, and there will be a new iPlayer section for kids
Major news shows like Breakfast, the News at One, Six and Ten, are to be maintained as much as possible and there will be a prime time COVID-19 bulletin every Wednesday.
Lord Hall added: ‘We need to pull together to get through this. That’s why the BBC will be using all of its resources – channels, stations and output – to help keep the nation informed, educated and entertained.’
The One Show will be ‘a consumer programme show for all aspects of the crisis,’ including ‘health and wellbeing advice, keeping fit and healthy eating tips’.
Health Check UK Live, on BBC One daytime, will ‘directly address the concerns of viewers who are in isolation, offering tips on how to keep healthy and happy at home’.
The Queen Vic pub on the Eastenders set. The corporation said, in a statement on EastEnders, that ‘in light of the spread of Covid-19, after much consideration, it has been decided that filming on EastEnders will be postponed until further notice.
Question Time will move to an 8pm slot on BBC One and will proceed without a studio audience
The BBC will also launch ‘a virtual church service on Sunday mornings across local radio in England, led initially by the Archbishop of Canterbury’.
The BBC also aims to broadcast a ‘weekly Sunday morning Church service on BBC One, and explore how to support other religions and denominations’.
‘We will work with partners to get older-age-group exercise routines, and other fitness programming, into people’s homes on TV or radio,’ it said.
Culture In Quarantine ‘will keep the arts alive in people’s homes,’ and be focused across ‘Radio 3, Radio 4, BBC Two, BBC Four, Sounds, iPlayer and digital platforms’.
The corporation said, in a statement on EastEnders, that ‘in light of the spread of Covid-19, after much consideration, it has been decided that filming on EastEnders will be postponed until further notice.
‘The decision was made after the latest Government update.
‘We will continue to follow the latest news and advice from the World Health Organisation and Public Health England,’ it said.
‘We have also taken the decision to reduce the amount of episodes we broadcast each week to two, so that we can ensure the audience can continue to enjoy EastEnders in their homes for as long as possible.’
It said that ‘filming on all BBC Studios continuing dramas will be postponed until further notice.’
It is thought that EastEnders, which will air on Mondays at 8pm and Tuesday at 7.30pm, has already stopped filming.
ITV announced a change to the scheduling pattern for Coronation Street and Emmerdale.
From March 30, Emmerdale will air Monday to Friday at 7pm.
Coronation Street currently broadcasts two episodes on some nights, but it will drop its 8.30pm episode to broadcast only at 7.30pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
‘The continued transmission of both soaps is a priority to all of us at ITV and to our audiences who enjoy the show,’ it said.
‘Whilst carefully adhering to the latest health advice from the Government and Public Health England, our production teams are continuing to film episodes in Manchester and Leeds.
‘With this change of transmission pattern it will ensure we have great new soap episodes coming to air every weekday night until at least the early summer.’
BBC chief Lord Hall said ‘there will be disruption to our output along the way’ but the broadcaster said BBC Breakfast, the One, Six and Ten (O’Clock news) are a priority.
In January, the BBC announced cuts to Newsnight, 5Live and other news output, leading to around 450 job losses.