Health Care

Have your say: Should England have had a 'circuit breaker' national lockdown?

Have your say: Should England have had a 'circuit breaker' national lockdown?”

And however much merit protecting the economy might have in the long run, creating a perception that you are ignoring scientific advice could be risky, should the virus run riot and the UK's already massive death toll rise still further.

The British government on Tuesday insisted it is still "guided by science" following criticism that senior ministers had ignored the advice of experts three weeks ago for tougher restrictions to cut rising coronavirus infections.

One billion pounds in financial support was allocated to the areas classified as "very high" risk level to help boost virus detection tests and implement new precautionary measures, he added.

Setting out the new regime at a Downing Street news conference yesterday, he said: "We are entering a new and crucial phase of our fight against coronavirus because the number of cases has gone up four times in four weeks and it is once again spreading among the elderly and vulnerable".

But it emerged as the Prime Minister set out a fresh package of restrictions on businesses and social lives that the Sage experts guiding the Government's response believe it is failing.

"The overall question for us is not whether they go too far but whether the overall package in fact goes far enough", Labour's health spokesman Jonathan Ashworth said.

When SAGE advised stricter measures against coronavirus on September 21st, UK Covid cases were around 4,000 a day.

The documents revealed that the top of the list was a circuit breaker lockdown with advice to work from home for that are able.

Alongside the circuit-breaker measure, they had recommended closing bars, restaurants, cafes, gyms and personal services like hairdressers, banning different households from mixing in homes and switching all university and college tuition online.

Downing Street issued a lengthy defence for not adopting the measures, saying the scientists agree that the economic impacts and harms of restrictions must also be considered.

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In these areas, social mixing will be banned both indoors and in private gardens, while pubs and bars will be told to close unless they can operate as a restaurant. The prime minister himself took weeks to decide which side to take; ultimately, he seems to have joined the Hancock camp, resulting in the three-tier alert system announced Monday.

But he added: "The Government does have the ability to impose measures if it's considered that's what's needed to reduce transmission, to safeguard the NHS and to save lives".

He said the basic Government proposals for such regions were "not sufficient" to tackle the worst rates of infection.

"We have to take a balanced judgment - these are not easy decisions", he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

The new lockdown will see areas of England labelled as medium, high or very high risk.

At the "high" alert level, household mixing will be banned indoors, although support bubbles will still be permitted and groups of six will be allowed to meet outdoors.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said England's tiered system would "give an idea" of a similar scheme to be proposed in Scotland.

Labour leader Keir Starmer said the system of local lockdowns has not worked so far during the pandemic and clashed with Johnson over the "serial failure" of the test and trace system.

In Northern Ireland, regulations now prevent mixing of households, with exceptions for those "bubbling" with another household, and up to six people from up to two households can meet outdoors in a private garden.

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