WHO: Covid second wave ‘fiercer’ says David Nabarro
Despite the positive effect on Covid cases caused by the November lockdown, cases have begun to rise sharply once again on the run-up to Christmas. The Prime Minister has not ruled out another lockdown across England.
Speaking during a visit to Bolton, Greater Manchester, Mr Johnson was asked whether England would follow Northern Ireland in imposing stringent restrictions after the festive period.
He said: “We’re hoping very much that we will be able to avoid anything like that. But the reality is that the rates of infection have increased very much in the last few weeks.”
Mr Johnson has reiterated his warnings to people to see the five-day Christmas relaxation period as “very much a maximum – that’s not a target people should aim for”.
He added: “Keep it short, keep it small, have yourselves a very little Christmas as I said the other night – that is, I’m afraid, the way through this year.
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“Next year I have no doubt that as we roll out the vaccine and all the other things that we’re doing, it will be very, very different indeed.”
Basildon in Essex currently has the highest rate in England, with 1,620 new cases recorded in the seven days to December 14 – the equivalent of 865.4 cases per 100,000 people.
This is up from 514.4 in the seven days to December 7.
Two-thirds of England are currently under Tier 3 restrictions, the highest possible outside of a total lockdown.
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Experts have warned against any travel for the Christmas despite the Government pressing ahead with its controversial ‘Christmas bubbles’ plan.
Professor Neil Ferguson, whose modelling led to the original lockdown in March, suggested a third national lockdown may need to be more stringent than the one England went under throughout November.
He told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: “The concern I have right now is that… (in) the East of England, for instance, case numbers were rising during the last lockdown, so there may be a need for additional controls beyond even what were in place then.”
When would another lockdown in England start?
If another lockdown were to come into force, it would almost certainly be post-Christmas.
The Government has committed to plans to let people travel wherever they like regardless of tier or local restrictions across the UK.
New figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest half of adults across the country are planning to form a Christmas bubble.
The survey, carried out between December 10 and 13, before Mr Johnson urged people to scale back their festive plans, also found that fewer people are planning social activities such as meeting in pubs, cafes or bars, compared with last year.
Up to three households are able to mix in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland between December 23 and 27, but the limit is two households in Wales.
Travel to and from Northern Ireland is also permitted on December 22 and 28.
Wales is currently set to go into another lockdown at the end of the Christmas travel period.
This is set to be reviewed every three weeks, and currently has no set end date.
A similar situation has unfolded in Northern Ireland.
Scotland has not ruled out a post-Christmas lockdown although cases are not rising as sharply there as they are everywhere else.
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