Throughout the course of the pandemic, officials and ministers wrestled with how to ensure the public complied with ever-changing lockdown restrictions. One weapon in their arsenal was fear.
“We frighten the pants off everyone,” Matt Hancock suggested during one WhatsApp message with his media adviser.
The then health secretary was not alone in his desire to scare the public into compliance. The WhatsApp messages seen by The Telegraph show how several members of Mr Hancock’s team engaged in a kind of “Project Fear”, in which they spoke of how to utilise “fear and guilt” to make people obey lockdown.
Matt Hancock wanted to “deploy” a new Covid variant to “frighten the pants off” the public and ensure they complied with lockdown, leaked messages seen by The Telegraph have revealed.
The Lockdown Files – more than 100,000 WhatsApp messages sent between ministers, officials and others – show how the Government used scare tactics to force compliance and push through lockdowns.
There are signs that the latest wave of Covid infections may have peaked in children and younger adults, according to scientists tracking the outbreak.
But rates in those older groups most vulnerable to severe disease are continuing to increase in England.