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Will there be a second national covid lockdown in the UK?

FEARS of a second nationwide coronavirus lockdown are growing as rising infection rates continue to grip the UK.

With stark warnings also from the nation's top scientists, the government has attempted to prevent going into a blanket quarantine as the R rate rises above 1.

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Will there be a second national lockdown?

PM Boris Johnson has called on Brits to "summon the discipline and the resolve" to avoid a second national lockdown.

He's also warned of "too many breaches" of coronavirus rules.

The PM said while the virus had been "driven into retreat", the prospect of a second wave is "real and I'm sorry to say that, as in Spain and France and many other countries, we've reached a perilous turning point."

His stern words follow a government caution that the country is in the "last chance saloon" and that it's "getting close to being too late".

While he is keen to avoid another nation-wide lockdown, Mr Johnson has refused to rule a second one out – particularly as Covid-19 cases have dramatically rocketed.

The PM hopes that new measures announced for England – including urging office staff to work from home, bringing in a 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants and bigger fines for those flouting face covering rules – will avoid the need for tougher interventions such as a second lockdown.

But there are fears they don't go far enough.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Tuesday (October 6, 2020) that nationwide lockdown measures would be "not appropriate".

The Chancellor insisted that PM Boris Johnson didn't want to put in place new nationwide curfews to stop the spread of coronavirus and that the 10pm curfew was preventing pubs from shutting down completely.

Medical and scientific experts had demanded tough restrictions to halt a deadly second wave of coronavirus.

But after a crucial summit Mr Sunak sought a one-to-one meeting with the PM and make it clear he “wouldn’t wear it”.

A senior MP said: “There were fears he would find it difficult to carry on if he was ignored.

“It was all down to the Chancellor that we avoided delivering a hammer blow to the economy and took a more balanced approach instead. Rishi saved the day.”

Professor John Edmunds, a member of the Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said the curfew on bars and restaurants is likely to have a "trivial" effect.

Speaking in a personal capacity, he told the BBC: "I suspect we will see very stringent measures coming in place throughout the UK at some point, but it will be too late again."

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that if further measures were required, they would be "more intrusive or we could end up in a national lockdown.

"That is what we want to avoid."

He told Sky News: "Let's hope we can get through the winter months if we take these measures."

If everyone "plays by the rules, and we go into Christmas not needing to go into that national lockdown" it would avoid "the impact on society and families, and the damage it would do to businesses," Mr Raab added.

When could a second national lockdown start?

No date has been mentioned for a possible second national lockdown as the government is keen to avoid one.

Mr Johnson has warned that actions – including 10 pm pub and restaurant curfews that came into place from September 24 across England – must be "tough now".

Telling The Sun he wanted to "stop the surge" and get a "grip" on the pandemic, Mr Johnson added: "Christmas we want to protect, and we want everyone to have a fantastic Christmas.

"But the only way to make sure the country is able to enjoy Christmas [without a second lockdown] is to be tough now."

But the Prime Minister has now confirmed pubs n northern areas affected by high Covid-19 R rates to close from Monday 12 October, 2020.

The restriction will come into effect n Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle.

Mr Johnson intends to unveil a newer, simplified three-tier local lockdown code next week.

In plans signed off at a ministerial “gold command” meeting last night, Tier 1 will see current social distancing measures, the “rule of six” and a pub curfew of 10pm enforced.

Areas in Tier 2 will have the same restrictions plus a ban on households mixing.

Vast swathes of the virus-hit North West and North East would automatically fall under Tier 3, in which pubs, restaurants and other hospitality businesses will be shut.

People will not be able to mix households — except those with exemptions — and will have to abide by the national social distancing laws, such as wearing face masks.

How long will the new measures last for?

Boris Johnson said his new measures – which he's insisted are not a full lockdown – could run for six months from September 24 if Covid-19 cases don't drop.

"We will spare no effort in developing vaccines, treatments, new forms of mass testing.

"But unless we palpably make progress we should assume that the restrictions I have announced will remain in place for perhaps six months," he told parliament.

Could there be a short 'circuit breaker' lockdown?

Scientists advising the Government want a two-week national lockdown next month to battle the Covid-19 surge.

Downing Street is keen to "circuit break" the surge in cases, The Financial Times reports.

Experts have now suggested an October lockdown during half term before the virus "breaks the NHS".

It comes after the Government played down reports that Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty is pushing for a fresh fortnight-long lockdown to battle surging infection numbers.

Up to 10 million Brits have already been plunged into fresh local lockdowns in regions throughout the UK.

Meanwhile, Scotland will implement a fresh round of restrictions on Friday October 9 and last until October 25 as part of a "brake to the virus".

It comes as Scotland recently recorded more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours for the first time.

Boozers inside Scotland's so-called 'central belt' – Greater Glasgow & Clyde, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire & Arran, Lothian and Forth Valley – will be ordered to shut their doors completely.

This will affect about 3.4million people.

People living in the Central Belt are being asked to avoid public transport unless it is absolutely necessary – for example for going to school or to work, if home working is not an option. 

For the two-week period supermarkets and other shops are being asked to reintroduce the two metre social distancing rule.

And one way systems should also be brought back into force.

How would a 'circuit break' lockdown work?

A possible short and sharp fortnight-long lockdown is among measures being considered by ministers to curb the escalation of infections.

Boris Johnson is rumoured to be considering a circuit breaker lockdown, in which pubs and restaurants would be closed, to give the nation “breathing space” in the battle against coronavirus.

Such a lockdown would likely include bans on socialising with other households, and ordering people not to use public transport unless it was essential.

However, it is highly unlikely that schools and workplaces would close at this point.

The concept of a “circuit breaker” lockdown was originally devised in Singapore, where Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong implemented the measure in April.

It saw all but essential workplaces closed and restrictions imposed on restaurants and public spaces.

What are the latest restrictions in the UK?

Tougher restrictions are now in place across all four nations, including:

England:

  • Working from home is once again being encouraged – unless you’re employed in the likes of construction or retail
  • From September 24 pubs, bars and restaurants must offer table service only and hospitality, leisure, entertainment and tourism businesses will all have to close between 10pm and 5am
  • People working in retail, travelling in taxis, and staff and customers in indoor hospitality – except while seated at a table to eat or drink – will have to wear face coverings
  • From September 28, a maximum of 15 people will be allowed to attend wedding ceremonies and receptions, but the limit remains at 30 for funerals
  • The rule of six – where any social gatherings of more than six people are against the law – is being extended to all adult indoor team sports
  • Large sporting events, business conferences and exhibitions will not reopen as had been planned from October 1
  • The penalties for disobeying the new rules will be greater – failing to wear a mask or breaking the rule of six will see fines doubling to £200 for a first offence
  • Businesses which break the rules could be fined up to £10,000 and closed down
  • Fines of up to £10,000 for people who fail to self-isolate have already been announced

Downing Street said military support was an option to free up police so they can focus on enforcing the tougher rules.

Northern Ireland:

  • Alcohol-only pubs – which don’t serve food – can now reopen in Northern Ireland
  • But fresh Covid-19 restrictions were extended from some specific postcodes to the whole country from 6pm on Tuesday September 22
  • Households are no longer allowed to mix indoors, except for single-person bubbles and certain other exemptions
  • No more than six people from two households can meet in a garden

First Minister Arlene Foster said a two-week period of lockdown to try to halt the spread of the virus, a so-called circuit breaker, could not be ruled out.

Scotland:

Household mixing indoors are now no longer allowed, with exemptions for those living alone, couples not living together, childcare and tradespeople.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said children under 12 will be exempt from the current limit of six people from two households when meeting outside.

And those between 12 and 18 will be able to meet a limit of six others from six households outdoors.

From Friday, September 25, pubs, bars and restaurants must close at 10pm.

People in Scotland are also being advised against car-sharing, with Ms Sturgeon saying that according to Test and Protect data there is a "significant risk of transmission" in such settings.

She said no decision has been taken yet on a so-called circuit-break in October, and the Scottish Government is "keeping it under review".

Wales:

Pubs, cafes, restaurants and casinos in Wales must operate as table service only and close from 10pm on Thursday, September 24.

  • Off-licences including supermarkets will also be stopped from selling alcohol at 10pm
  • Only six people can meet indoors and must be part of a single extended household
  • Face coverings must be worn on public transport, in shops and in enclosed public spaces across Wales

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: "Families have lost loved ones. People have lost jobs and livelihoods. This is a highly infectious virus.

"We cannot let it take a hold of our lives again. We have come too far to let that happen."

Additional measures across much of South Wales came into force from 6pm on September 22.

The local measures, which are already in force across Rhondda Cynon Taf and Caerphilly county borough, now apply in Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil, Newport and Blaenau Gwent.

Under the new rules people are banned from entering or leaving the areas without a reasonable excuse and are only able to meet with other households outdoors, including members of their extended household.

All licensed premises such as pubs have to close at 11pm.

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