Friday, 30 Oct 2020

Coronavirus: Boris Johnson briefs cabinet ahead of three-tier lockdown announcement

Boris Johnson is gathering cabinet ministers for a call as he prepares to unveil a new three-tier lockdown system.

The prime minister is briefing his top team this evening and is expected to reveal his plan to impose tougher restrictions on parts of England tomorrow.

Under the draft blueprint, pubs and bars could be closed in areas of northern England put into the strictest tier.

And residents may be ordered not to have any social contact with anyone outside their household in any setting.

But MPs in Manchester have launched a last-ditch appeal to ministers not to shut hospitality firms and instead hand them the power to only close those which are not COVID-secure.

They said such a lockdwon move would be “devastating” for jobs and high case numbers there are mostly students safely “confined” to halls of residence.

Meanwhile, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick revealed a few glimpses of what Mr Johnson will say in a coronavirus update to parliament on Monday.

He appeared to confirm a Sunday Times report that local leaders will be more involved in contact tracing, after repeated criticism of the numbers of people successfully contacted by Test and Trace.

And he added Mr Johnson will lay out more guidance on travel, but that there are no plans for a “circuit breaker”.

Prof John Ashton, a former regional director at Public Health England, said the three-tier approach “would have been the right way to go at the beginning, if we’d had adequate testing and tracing”.

But first “we need a lockdown of most of the country again now to try and get back in control”, he told Sky News.

Prof Ashton added the government had “stubbornly stuck with this private solution” of a more centralised Test and Trace programme, but that signals more powers will be handed to local public health teams were welcome.

Another 12,872 coronavirus cases were recorded on Sunday across the UK, with another 65 deaths taking the total to 42,825.

Britons are being urged to maintain distancing, wash their hands and wear a face covering in light of the figures, though more cases are an inevitability of greatly increased test numbers.

The country is already at “a tipping point similar to where we were in March“, England’s deputy chief medical officer Prof Jonathan Van-Tam has warned.

“We can prevent history repeating itself if we all act now,” he urged.

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