Is the UK heading for a second national lockdown? That’s the question being asked in Westminster as coronavirus cases rise and SAGE members call for further measures. On Friday, the Prime Minister met with Rishi Sunak, Matt Hancock and Michael Gove to discuss how best to respond to new NHS data on the spread of coronavirus across the country.
While no final decisions have yet been taken, one option on the table is national measures. The idea being that Boris Johnson could move from a localised approach to national restrictions – with everything other than educational institutions and essential retail to close. The planned time period of this would be around a month. Another option being considered is to stick with the localised approach but add a fourth tier. The fourth tier would see everything other than educational institutions and essential retail closed in the worst hit areas.
The toughening of restrictions has this week begun to be be viewed as near inevitable by some in government after France imposed a lockdown and other European countries followed suit. While parts of the UK are already under tougher restrictions than England, there is a push for the four governments to work together to come up with a cohesive strategy.
The current suggestion – as reported in several Saturday papers – is for a Monday press conference to announce a shift in strategy. However, it’s worth remembering that the situation remains fluid. The Conservative parliamentary party has long been sceptical of lockdown and the proposed plans will trigger a backlash from Tory MPs before the weekend out. Should Johnson choose to pursue a national lockdown strategy, he may have to look to Labour votes to get it through the Commons.
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