Minister Says Second Lockdown Could Follow If New Restrictions Don’t Work

TOPSHOT - A picture shows the Houses of Parliament (L) at the end of an empty Westminster Bridge with one pedestrian on the pavement in central London in the morning on March 24, 2020 after Britain ordered a lockdown to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. - Britain was …
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Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said that the government could impose a second national lockdown if the new social distancing measures do not stop the spread of coronavirus.

On Tuesday afternoon, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that from Thursday, all pubs and other hospitality venues would be under a 10 pm curfew, with all bar orders banned to be replaced by table service. Other strict measures include forcing staff in shops to wear masks, while patrons at restaurants and pubs will have to wear masks unless they are at a table eating and drinking.

The government did not announce the speculated two-week lockdown over October. However, speaking to Sky News on Wednesday, the foreign secretary said that a lockdown might be imposed if the new measures do not work.

Mr Raab said: “We’ve always said we’ve got a sort of repository of measures in the arsenal to take.

“I don’t think we would speculate about what further could be done.

“But the reality is they will be more intrusive or we could end up in a national lockdown.

“That is what we want to avoid.”

On hospitality curfews, Mr Raab told the news station: “We know that in bars and restaurants, particularly after people have had a few drinks, as you go into the later hours of the evening, that there’s a risk that the compliance with the guidance ebbs a little bit.

“So we’re taking this measure. We’re confident, based on the evidence that we’ve got domestically and internationally, that it’s one element of those that we need to make.”

The Times reported this morning that early closing of pubs and restaurants was not recommended by government scientists, who think it will make little difference. Recent figures revealed that hospitality related to just five per cent of new coronavirus cases.

Rather, according to the newspaper, some belonging to the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) implied that more strict measures were needed.

The UK’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, reportedly went as far as telling the prime minister that house visits should be may illegal in England. According to The Times, Professor Whitty had met his counterparts from Scotland and Northern Ireland, whose leaders have recently banned citizens from visiting each other’s homes.

In June, it had been technically made illegal to have sex with someone you do not live with; the rules were lifted this month, so long as the parties are in an “established relationship”, meaning casual sex is still prohibited under coronavirus rules.

While the goverment’s medical advisors are expressing some zeal for lockdowns across the UK, Guido Fawkes revealed that while Sage member Professor John Edmunds backed further national restrictions, just a few months ago he had criticised a “containment” strategy.

Professor Edmunds said on Wednesday on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme of the government’s new measures: “Overall, I don’t think they go far enough. In fact, I don’t think the measures in Scotland go far enough. In order to stop the epidemic growing any further, we have to put a large range of measures in place.”

Whereas in March, the epidemiologist had said: “The only way to stop this epidemic is indeed to achieve herd immunity.”

The medical community is not in agreement on the government’s strategy, however. Medics and academics, including from Oxford University, recently wrote to the prime minister to say that the current government policy “is inconsistent with the known risk-profile of COVID-19 and should be reconsidered”. They called the objective of suppressing the virus through nationwide lockdowns and social distancing “unfeasible” and likely to cause harm in the long-run.

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