What time is the UK government's COBRA meeting today? Who attends and what will be discussed

Boris Johnson is set to chair an emergency COBRA meeting

Tuesday, 22nd September 2020, 10:04 am
Boris Johnson will chair a COBRA meeting this morning (Getty Images)
Boris Johnson will chair a COBRA meeting this morning (Getty Images)

The UK government is to hold an emergency COBRA meeting today (22 September) to discuss the introduction of new social distancing measures.

The meeting comes as the UK experiences a second wave of coronavirus cases, with pubs, restaurants and cafes in England set to be hit with a compulsory 10pm closing time.

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A spokesperson for Number 10 explained the need for action.

They said, “You can see what’s been happening over the course of the previous 72 or 96 hours.

“The PM spoke on Friday about his concerns about a second wave. There was an update to the Cabinet on Saturday, the PM held more meetings with scientific advisers and with colleagues yesterday.

“Today he will be engaging with the devolved administrations, let’s see where we get to.

“Tomorrow morning [September 22] is an opportunity for COBRA to discuss what next steps may be required in the coronavirus response.”

When is the COBRA meeting?

The COBRA meeting will take place some time this morning, though an exact time is not currently known.

It will likely conclude some time before noon,however, with the Prime Minister set to update the House of Commons on Covid-19 restrictions for England at 12.30pm.

Who will be in attendance?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will chair the meeting after missing five meetings earlier in the year.

He will be joined by leaders of the devolved administrations - Nicola Sturgeon, Marcus Drakeford and Arlene Foster.

They will likely be joined by a host of scientific and medical experts, likely including chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries.

What is COBRA and when are meetings called?

The name stands for ‘Cabinet Office Briefing Room A’ and refers to the emergency council which is formed when a crisis arises which will call for various different departments to work in tandem.

They meet in the Cabinet Office's briefing rooms (usually room A), hence the name.

The idea is to convene all the relevant parties at once to make rapid, effective action possible. In America, the Situation Room provides roughly the same function.

Having originally been formed in response to the miner's strike in 1972, past COBRA meetings have also been called to deal with issues like the fire-fighters' strike, terrorist attacks across Europe and the US, and the Novichok poisoning case.