Britain offers public the chance to ask ministers coronavirus questions

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's government said on Monday it will give a member of the public the chance to ask ministers, scientific and medical officers a question at its daily briefing on the fight against the novel coronavirus.

Just hours after Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised to give the public "the maximum possible transparency" over ministers' thinking on measures to ease the coronavirus lockdown, the government asked the public to get involved.

"The coronavirus is the biggest health crisis the UK public has faced in a generation. We know people across the UK are making significant sacrifices every day in order to stay at home," a spokesman for Johnson said.

"We recognise the huge disruption it is having on their lives, jobs and businesses, so it's absolutely right that the public get the chance to put their questions on the virus and the measures that we've put in place directly to the government and to its experts."

The government said in a statement that anyone could apply on the https://www.gov.uk/ask website as long as they were over 18 and that the question would be reviewed at midday on the day of the news conference.

Only one question would be chosen each day and if selected, the person would be contacted by 3 p.m. (1400 GMT)

The government has been criticised by opposition parties and some businesses for not setting out how and when it will ease an economic and social lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus, with some suggesting Britain was falling behind other countries in its response.

On Monday, Johnson said he could not spell out now how and when those changes would be made, but added: "I want to serve notice now that these decisions will be taken with the maximum possible transparency and I want to share all our working and our thinking, my thinking, with you the British people."


(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; editing by Sarah Young and Stephen Addison)