Boris Johnson ‘would consider’ two-week ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown as pressure grows

Boris Johnson ‘would consider’ two-week ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown as pressure grows

 

Boris Johnson is under pressure to order a two-week ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown that scientists say could save an estimated 7,800 lives.

The Prime Minister is now reportedly willing to consider the drastic move if his three-tier system fails after calls from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to introduce the new national restrictions.

The temporary lockdown would see the closure of the majority of businesses, including pubs and restaurants, if the traffic light system – in place from today – does not slow the spread, Government sources told the Telegraph.

It is reported a decision will be made at the end of next week, just in time for the half-term school holiday, with one source claiming the likelihood of the U-turn is “at least 80 per cent”.

A Tory MP told the Express that the October half-term felt like the “obvious time” for a clampdown with Downing Street sources saying a “circuit breaker” has not been taken off the table.

A paper by members of the SAGE advisory group, obtained by The Times and due to be published today, shows a two-week full lockdown could save thousands by the end of the year.

With stay-at-home orders and school closures from October 24, the breaker could reduce deaths for the rest of the year from about 19,900 to 12,100, the paper states.

It goes on to say, hospital admissions could be reduced from 132,400 to 66,500.

While a limited lockdown, with schools and shops open but hospitality venues closed, could cut deaths to 15,600, it adds, according to The Times.

But the PM may well favour different regional circuit breakers instead after he described another UK-wide lockdown as a “nuclear deterrent”.

It is the first time Sir Keir has confirmed Labour would support a circuit breaker after laying out an alternative plan during a press conference on Tuesday.

In doing so, he essentially tore up a political truce between the two parties over the pandemic response.

The leader of the opposition said pubs, bars and restaurants would all need to be closed, but a compensation package would also need to be agreed.

He went on to say schools should remain open – though the temporary lockdown could coincide with the start of the school holidays at the end of the month.

“If we don’t, we could sleepwalk into a long and bleak winter,” he said. “That choice is now for the Prime Minister to make. I urge him to do so.”

Some of the PM’s own ministers have called for harsher measures than the three-tier system – which has so far only seen the Liverpool City Region placed into the top level of lockdown.

The Sun reports some in Mr Johnson’s Cabinet believe he will have to relent, but is concerned about the “toxicity” of another lockdown and was even looking for another name to call the temporary measure.

Until now Mr Johnson has consistently allied with Chancellor Rishi Sunak in putting his faith in the tiered lockdown system, but on Tuesday the pressure was ramped up for a different approach.

Forty-two Tory MPs rebelled over the 10pm curfew rule, arguing it was callously putting scores of pubs and bars out of business.

Governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey, meanwhile, said current restrictions had led to a record number of redundancies.

Labour’s Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham is also demanding a circuit break, warning the tiered restrictions would put the North on a “path to hardship for people, redundancies and business failure”.

It comes as Greater Manchester and Lancashire wait to learn whether they will be reclassified into the most severe local lockdown tier.

An emergency ‘gold summit’ meeting is expected to take place on Wednesday after a major rise in coronavirus cases.

If the two areas are moved up, around 3,100 pubs and 475 gyms could be ordered to completely close for at least a month, devastating tens of thousands of livelihoods.

The daily death toll yesterday rose above 100 for first time in four months — taking the total to 43,018.

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