Boris Johnson under pressure to order circuit-breaker lockdown
Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced growing pressure to order a national circuit-breaker lockdown, after the opposition Labour Party and government scientists said the move was needed to get Covid-19 under control.
Labour leader Keir Starmer warned on Tuesday that local restrictions are not working and demanded a lockdown across England lasting two to three weeks, after documents revealed that the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies called for the same action three weeks ago.
London’s Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan backed the move, tweeting that a short national lockdown would have the biggest impact on slowing the spread.
Johnson stood firm Tuesday evening, telling Conservative members of Parliament via Zoom that he is against a repeat of the national lockdown that shuttered businesses earlier in the year. But with UK Covid-19 deaths soaring to their highest daily level since June, concern is mounting that his new three-tier system of restrictions will not be enough to curb the virus.
Starmer said schools should stay open but the lockdown should coincide with the October half-term holiday. Pubs, bars and restaurants would close and would need substantial financial support. “If we act now, if we follow the science and break the circuit, we can get this virus under control,” Starmer said. “If we don’t, we can sleepwalk into a long and bleak winter.”
Meanwhile the premier was warned by his own colleagues that coronavirus restrictions were damaging people’s livelihoods and mental health, with 42 Conservative MPs voting against stricter measures Tuesday. Chris Green, MP for Bolton West, resigned as a ministerial aide, saying in a letter to Johnson that the attempted cure is worse than the disease.
Official figures released on Tuesday showed 143 people in the UK died after testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the total death toll to 43,018. That’s the highest daily rate since June 10, according to the government’s coronavirus dashboard.
Separate figures showed there were 3,905 Covid-19 patients in the hospital in England, up from 2,783 the previous week. Some 441 Covid-19 patients were in mechanical ventilation beds, compared to 349 a week earlier.
The trend in Covid-related deaths is starting to rise quickly, which is hugely concerning, Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England, said in an emailed statement.