COVID-19: UK Labour Leader Starmer Calls For 2-3 Weeks Lockdown Or Circuit Breaker

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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called for a short lockdown or “circuit-breaker” in England of two to three weeks to bring the rising rate of coronavirus under control.

He said measures were not working and another course was needed to prevent a “sleepwalk into… a bleak winter”.
His comments come after documents revealed government scientific advisers called for such action three weeks ago.
Another 143 people have died in the UK after testing positive for the virus.
MPs have approved the legislation to write a new three-tier system for coronavirus restrictions in England into law – with every area of the country classified as being on medium, high or very high alert.
Sir Keir said his lockdown proposal would “not mean schools closing” but it should “run across half-term to minimise disruption”.
However, he said it would mean that “all pubs, bars and restaurants would be closed” and compensated “so that no business loses out because of the sacrifices we all need to make”.
“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,” Sir Keir said.
He suggested it would also provide a chance for the government to “fix” problems by handing over track and trace responsibilities to local authorities.
Documents detailing advice from scientists on the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) were released on Monday night. Their views and evidence feed into the government’s decision making.

Sir Keir said his proposals were “in line with Sage’s recommendation” for a circuit breaker to lower the reproduction number, or R value, of the virus – but acknowledged they would require significant sacrifices.

He said:

  • Only essential work and travel would be allowed and everyone who can work from home should do so
  • Non-essential offices should be closed
  • Household mixing should be restricted to one household except for those who have formed support bubbles
  • UK Parliament should “move to remote working”

Meanwhile, Wales’ first minister has said he had asked Prime Minister Boris Johnson for a special Cobra meeting “specifically to discuss the circuit-breaker idea” earlier in the week – and repeated that call in a letter on Wednesday.

“I think it’s an idea that will need further examination and needs to be shared in perspective between the four UK nations,” Mark Drakeford added.

Mr Johnson has rejected Mr Drakeford’s demand for a travel ban on people coming to Wales from England’s virus hotspots.

Ministers in Northern Ireland’s devolved government have been warned that COVID-19 infection rates will keep rising if both schools and the hospitality sector remain open.

The Scottish government is to implement its own three-tier framework of restrictions later in October. In the meantime, pubs and restaurants in Scotland’s central belt, including Edinburgh and Glasgow, were closed on Friday until 25 October as part of a package of short-term measures.

‘Hugely concerning’

The daily figure of 143 deaths follows 50 deaths announced on Monday and was the highest daily total since the 164 deaths recorded on 10 June.

The latest government figures also show another 17,234 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the UK, compared with 13,792 cases the day before.

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