Regional circuit-breakers 'could see Covid hotspots lockdown over half term' as PM looks to avoid national closures

BORIS Johnson is reportedly considering a series of regional circuit-breaker lockdowns to target Covid-hit areas and avoid further national measures.

The PM, who wants to avoid a second national lockdown, is believed to be considering the idea of two-week shutdowns in some parts of the country if the new three-tier system fails to stop the coronavirus spread.

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A decision will be taken towards the end of next week, ahead of the October half-term break, which would mark the start of any temporary lockdown, The Telegraph reports.

A circuit-breaker would potentially see all pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops close for two weeks, with people told to work from home where possible and avoid public transport to break the cycle of infection.

Over the last 24 hours, the UK reported 17,234 new cases of Covid-19 and 143 deaths – the country's deadliest day for four months.

The PM has, so far, resisted calls to introduce a second national lockdown and recently likened a shutdown to a "nuclear deterrent".

Last night, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer urged the PM to close all bars, restaurants and offices for two to three weeks in a speech last night.

Sir Keir said Mr Johnson's latest restrictions do not go far enough.

He said: "We're at a decisive moment in fight against coronavirus. The figures are stark and all heading in the wrong direction.

"Another course of action is needed, that's why I'm calling for a two to three week circuit breaker in England.

"A temporary set of clear and effective restrictions to get the R rate down."



If tougher measures were not brought in, the Labour leader warned that the UK could "sleepwalk into a long and bleak winter".

"That choice is now for the Prime Minister to make. I urge him to do so."

Welcoming the idea of a lockdown, Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham warned that a winter under Tier 3 restrictions would "kill us".

The Liverpool City Region will follow Tier 3 restrictions meaning pubs will be shut, households will be banned from mixing indoors and outdoors, and gyms and leisure centres will be closed.

As it stands, Greater Manchester will follow Tier 2 restrictions which will see a ban on mixing with other households indoors, including in pubs and in restaurants.

But, a "gold command" meeting will be held today to discuss whether Greater Manchester and Lancashire should be reclassified for tighter restrictions, Sky News reports.

Mr Burnham said: "(It) would be much more effective, come with proper financial support and allow the reset of test and trace.

"A winter in Tier 3 would kill us. We are not there yet."

The PM came under attack from all sides last night as 42 Tory MPs voted against the hospitality curfew.

Bolton West MP Chris Green resigned from the government in opposition to the coronavirus restrictions.

Mr Green said that the Greater Manchester lockdown had "failed" but was instead causing other problems and destroying businesses.

He believed that there were "better alternatives to the Government's approach".

He said that the "attempted cure was worse than the disease".

The PM said that Britain was entering a "new and crucial phase" in its fight against coronavirus as he aimed to simplify the various restrictions already in place across the country.

Two of the government’s top scientific advisers claim a two week 'circuit break' lockdown could prevent thousands of deaths before Christmas.

Professors Graham Medley and Matt Keeling say between 3,000 and as many as 107,000 deaths could be avoided by January if a national lockdown is imposed over the October half term.


 

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