News | Published July 20 2020

PM wishes to avoid second nationwide lockdown

Prime minister Boris Johnson told The Sunday Telegraph that he does not want to trigger a second nationwide lockdown should there be a second spike of Covid-19 cases.

Speaking in an interview to mark one year in office, Johnson added that he does not think the UK “will be in that position again” where a second national shutdown is required, but chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has warned of a “risk” that such measures may be necessary toward the winter months.

Speaking of a potential second national lockdown, Johnson said: "I can't abandon that tool any more than I would abandon a nuclear deterrent. But it is like a nuclear deterrent, I certainly don't want to use it. And nor do I think we will be in that position again.”

Meanwhile, local authorities in England have been handed the power to impose lockdowns on a local scale when outbreaks occur, including closing local shops, cancelling events and closing outdoor public spaces.

Johnson said that he felt experts were becoming more adept at identifying the virus and isolating outbreaks to local areas.

"We're genuinely able now to look at what's happening in much closer to real time, to isolate outbreaks and to address them on the spot, and to work with local authorities to contain the problem locally and regionally if we have to."

On Friday, the prime minister revealed plans for a "significant return to normality" which could "possibly" come as early as Christmas.

The Labour party has said that the government’s desire to open up the economy meant well but warned of gaps in the plans.

Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy told Sky News: "You only have to go down the high street to see what the problem is.

"Many people aren't coming out of their houses and they aren't spending because they are nervous about what this means, whether there is going to be a second wave; whether the NHS is going to be overwhelmed, and we really do need to get to grips with the test trace and isolate system - which the government admits is not fully functional."

Nandy also called for improvements to the test and trace system to guarantee results within 24 hours and said that the “mass winter flu vaccination programme” that the PM had mentioned in his plans must be delivered to boost public confidence.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said that it was the right move to give the nation “a target” and a “sense of hope” going forward.

Raab told the BBC: “While we are carefully monitoring the virus, we do need to get the economy firing on all cylinders, as best we can.”

Speaking on Friday, chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said that the challenges in winter will “be very much greater” and with that came a risk of further “national measures”.

The latest coronavirus figures recorded at 15:58 BST on Sunday saw 27 more deaths attributed to the virus in the previous 24 hours, raising the total number of people who have died in the UK after testing positive to 45,300. 726 new cases in the UK were identified during the same period.

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Authored by

Alexander Bridge-Wilkinson
Junior Editor
July 20 2020

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