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After Boris Johnson warned Brits to brace for a second wave of Covid-19 cases, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has refused to rule out a national lockdown, describing it as the country’s “last line of defence.”
But a more likely scenario being discussed in the corridors of Westminster today is a 14-day “circuit break” timed to coincide with the schools’ half term in October.
Pubs, restaurants, and some other non-essential businesses would be closed, in order to create a “breathing space” in the battle against coronavirus.
But offices and other workplaces would remain open.
Government sources have denied that this two-week shutdown amounts to a new lockdown, saying the Prime Minster is keen to avoid what they describe as “the nuclear option.”
The PM was warned Britain was “now seeing a second wave coming in” and it was “inevitable” that the number of infections would rise again.
A spokesperson for Mr Johnson told The Guardian : “We’ve always been clear that our strategy is to keep the virus down as much as possible while protecting education and the economy.
“We are prepared to take action that is necessary, but we obviously want to avoid any extended lockdown.”
The half term option is being seen as the PM’s preferred option to limit the sharp uptick in cases, but that may not be soon enough. One government source told The Times : “For every week we leave it you have double the number of cases.”
The Joint Biosecurity Centre, which advises the government on the pandemic, has said that the UK is roughly six weeks behind Spain on the infection curve.
There were 4,322 confirmed coronavirus cases announced yesterday, the first time in four months that the number of recorded daily infections was over 4,000.
Most worryingly, there were 228 coronavirus outbreaks in care homes in the past week, up from just 35 the week before.
A government source said: “The prime minister has a very difficult challenge. At the moment we are on the same trajectory of Spain and France.
"Spain clocked 240 deaths [on Thursday September 18]. They are six weeks ahead of us so it is now being translated from cases to deaths. France’s death rate is also gathering pace.
“We can see what’s happening. By mid to late October if we don’t do anything then obviously that’s going to put us in a situation that looks more like we were earlier in the year.”
- Boris Johnson
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