On 12th March 2020 Lord Bethell, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Care, repeated a Government statement on coronavirus. The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, asked a follow up question:
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, in thanking the Minister, may I ask him whether he can give any information on the precautions and particular challenges in prisons, where, for instance, social distancing, isolation and provision of hospital services will be difficult to achieve?
Lord Bethell: The right reverend Prelate is entirely right to raise the question of prisons. Prisons provide an enormous challenge when it comes to the virus. The idea of prisoners living in prisons while the virus passes through such a tight-knit community concerns us enormously. I reassure him that the Ministry of Justice is looking into this carefully. It is using the experience in Italy and in China to understand how to provide for this in a humane and responsible way that preserves the security of our communities. It will publish advice on that shortly.