Tory Lockdown Sceptic Warns Govt Against Shutting Down UK in Autumn

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 16: Conservative MP Steve Baker leaves Downing Street on October 16, 2019 in London, England. Boris Johnson needs to get Tory Brexiteers and The DUP to agree to support his Brexit deal by the end of the day. Talks are continuing into the night and tomorrow …
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Steve Baker MP has warned the government not to consider shutting down the UK again in the Autumn after the government confirmed it would be reviewing its Covid-19 response in September.

Mr Baker, the deputy chairman of the Covid Recovery Group (CRG), had asked last week to clarify the date when the government planned to review Chinese coronavirus restrictions “to assess the country’s preparedness for autumn and winter 2021” and “what the format of that review will be”?

Answering on behalf of the government, Penny Mordaunt MP said this week the review would come in September and “will consider whether to continue or strengthen public and business guidance” — leaving open the possibility that restrictions could return just two months after the so-called ‘Freedom Day’.

Speaking to political news website Guido Fawkes, Mr Baker said of Ms Mordaunt’s statement that the government must not succumb to “tunnel vision” over its response to the Chinese virus, saying that as the UK learns to live with the virus, it cannot continue to shut down society.

“As we learn to live with coronavirus like we live with flu, and get on with our lives, it’s vital the Government doesn’t acquiesce into the tunnel vision that has made us sacrifice so much that makes life worth living. We don’t shut schools, pubs and theatres for flu so following the fantastic success of our vaccine rollout, we mustn’t do it for Covid either,” Mr Baker told Guido.

Baker is not the only Conservative MP to voice concerns that the Boris Johnson administration could again force restrictions on Britons, including Sir Charles Walker and Mark Harper.

Mr Harper, the chairman of the Covid Recovery Group, had warned earlier this month that “winter is coming”, saying: “Anyone who thinks I’m being too pessimistic should take a look at the small print in Government documents, which offer more than a hint that the Government is intending to reintroduce restrictions this winter.”

Sir Charles had suggested that pressure from the powerful Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE) influences the government too much in terms of imposing restrictions, adding: “Even if we do unlock for a short time at the backend of Summer, I suspect we’ll be in much harder lockdowns come the Autumn.”

Last month, Dr Susan Hopkins of SAGE and the chief coronavirus advisor to Public Health England said that the UK “may have to do further lockdowns this Winter. I can’t predict the future. It really depends on whether the hospitals start to become overwhelmed at some point.”

Prime Minister Johnson had also suggested in June that there could be a return to restrictions in the winter.

They may come even sooner than even the lockdown-sceptic Tory MPs could imagine. SAGE scientists have reportedly told the government that restrictions, including wearing masks and work-from-home advice, could be reimposed on Britons in just three weeks if hospital admissions increase, according to information seen by the i newspaper.

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