People in England could face new national lockdown restrictions from as early as next week, it has been reported.
According to multiple reports, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with senior cabinet colleagues on Friday to discuss possible new measures as the Coronavirus pandemic continues to worsen in England.
Government ministers have previously stuck by their approach of local restrictions and have said it would not make sense to put areas of the country facing the lowest infection rates into lockdowns. However, reports including in The Times newspaper have claimed that new national restrictions are under consideration and could be announced by Boris Johnson in a press conference on Monday.
COVID-19 cases in England have been rising sharply recently and the epidemic is growing rapidly, with the ‘R’ number thought to be as high as 1.3. Documents have also revealed that the virus is spreading “significantly” faster through the country than the government’s “reasonable worst-case scenario”.
What could a new lockdown involve?
If implemented, a new lockdown is expected to involve the closure of nearly all venues, except from schools, universities, nurseries, essential shops and essential workplaces.
People would most likely be ordered to stay at home, much the same as in the Spring lockdown.
According to reports, no final decision has been made regarding new restrictions, but it can be expected that if implemented, they will be largely similar to those already in place in France.
Wales, Northern Ireland, France and Germany have implemented ‘circuit breaker’/’fire-break’ lockdowns in attempts to bring the virus back under control and to try to ensure something close to normality over the Christmas period.
In Wales, a 2-week fire-break lockdown is currently in force, however, it has been reported that a lockdown in England could last for around four weeks, like the lockdown restrictions in France and Germany.
What about the local lockdown approach?
On 12 October, Boris Johnson announced a new local lockdown system with three tiers, each with their own set of restrictions. The government has faced calls to implement a circuit-breaker lockdown instead of sticking to the local lockdown approach, which many fear is not working.
Growing numbers of areas are now in the ‘high’ and ‘very high’ tiers of the local lockdown system and there has been talk of a potential additional fourth tier. This could happen instead of a national lockdown, however, reports have suggested that ministers are now favouring a national approach to restrictions.