London: A UK government minister said on Wednesday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has no plans to enforce a national lockdown any time soon, despite the rate of COVID-19 infections reaching record levels in England.
“I do not believe that the prime minister wants to set off on a national lockdown, but as ever he is advised by scientists – he takes that decision,” Work and Pension Secretary Therese Coffey told Sky News broadcaster.
According to Coffey, the new three COVID-alert levels that was unveiled by Johnson on Monday, and which has come into force on Wednesday, should be given time to work.
“We have the three tiers and we need to make sure we give that the chance to work”, she added.
The three-tier system is divided into three levels: “Medium” means existing national social distancing measures such as the so-called Rule of Six, which prohibits indoor or outdoor meetings of more than six people, and the closure of hospitality venues at 10:00pm (21:00 GMT), will be applied.
“High” adds extra measures including a ban on indoor social mixing between households or support bubbles, and “Very High” puts a ban on all social mixing between people from different household in private and public places, and the closure of pubs and other leisure venues, but without closing schools.
So far, the Liverpool City region is the only area where the toughest restrictions have been applied as from Wednesday, although Greater Manchester might follow suit due to current spike in the rate of infections.
Opposition leader Keir Starmer is demanding the government to impose a two-three week “circuit breaker” lockdown in England, as suggested by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) weeks ago.
“The government has not got a credible plan to slow infections. It has lost control of the virus and it’s no longer following scientific advice,” Starmer said during a press briefing.
The semi-autonomous governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have announced plans to implement short term lockdowns within their territories.
As of Tuesday, the UK has recorded 634,920 cases of the novel coronavirus and 43,018 COVID-19-related deaths.