British Prime Minister Boris Johnson returns to Downing Street on October 13, 2020 in London, England.
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There is growing pressure on the UK government to impose a strict, short, mini-blockade to act as what is called a “coronavirus breaker”
Keir Starmer, the leader of the opposition Labor Party, added to the calls of scientists to block for two to three weeks, as the infections rocket the country.
Starmer accused British Prime Minister Boris Johnson of ignoring expert advice after reports surfaced on Tuesday that top government advisers said a few weeks ago that the country should enter a mini-national lock to stop the virus from spreading.
The Labor leader said the government’s current plan – which includes Covid-19’s “warning system” introduced on Monday and which determines the level of risk in areas of England according to the extent of their infection – “does not work”.
The unveiled “circuit breaker” could cut medieval school leave in late October, but will require “significant casualties,” he told a news conference on Tuesday.
The mini lock will not include schools, Starmer said, but would only allow basic travel and work from home if possible. Household mixing will be limited to one household, and pubs, bars and restaurants will have to be closed for two to three weeks, and Parliament will have to return to remote work, Starmer said.
The call for further measures comes as parts of the country are already under local blockade, banning the mixing of households indoors. However, most of England is at a “medium” level of risk, which means that the main restrictions are in place, limiting social gatherings to no more than six people and forcing pubs and restaurants to close at 10pm.
The strictest blocking measures took effect in the northern city of Liverpool on Wednesday, as the government was placed in the “very high” category by the government amid rising infections there. Restaurants and bars that do not serve food should be closed, as well as gyms, entertainment centers, betting, adult gaming centers and casinos. Mixing households outdoors or indoors is prohibited and travel to and outside areas considered “very high” is not recommended.
Despite pressure on the government, Johnson and senior lawmakers are reluctant to impose a full lock for fear of more economic damage.
However, a government minister reduced the prospect of a new blockade across the country. Labor and Pensions Secretary Theresa Coffey told Sky on Wednesday: “I don’t believe the prime minister wants to start a national lock, but as scientists always advise, he makes that decision.”
The bars open their doors on the last night in Liverpool, north-west England on 13 October 2020, before new local locking measures are introduced.
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Documents released on Monday show that the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE), which provides scientific advice to the government during a crisis, has advised the government to go further with restrictions – and proposed a blockade three weeks ago. They also proposed banning households from mixing indoors and closing all bars, restaurants, cafes, indoor gyms and hairdressers.
The UK has the third highest number of infections in Europe, after Spain and France, with 637,708 confirmed cases of the virus and more than 43,000 deaths, the worst in Europe, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Data from the UK government shows another 17,234 people tested positive for the virus on Tuesday, up from 13,972 reported on Monday. The seven-day average number of infections reached 14,972 on October 10, up from 11,994 a week earlier.