Experts are recommending a 2 week national lockdown to coincide with October school holidays

By Helen Johnson
Friday, 18th September 2020, 12:35 pm
Updated Friday, 18th September 2020, 12:38 pm
A national lockdown has not been ruled out, as Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it could be imposed as the “last line of defence" (Photo: Shutterstock)

Parts of the North East of England and are now subject to tighter local lockdown restrictions, with new rules in areas of the North West also to come into force from Tuesday 22 September.

But could the whole of the UK soon see a national two week long lockdown put in place?

Here are the rumours addressed and what experts are saying.

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Will there be a two week national lockdown?

A national lockdown has not been ruled out, as Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it could be imposed as the “last line of defence.”

His statement came after reports that ministers are considering further measures nationwide, including a lockdown that could last for a two week period.

Proposals could see essential travel to schools and workplaces continue, but temporary closures or restricted opening hours for restaurants and bars, with different households asked not to mix.

A two week long October lockdown was reportedly suggested by experts from the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), in a Government meeting on 16 September, according to the Financial Times.

The newspaper reported that experts from both Sage and the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M) have suggested a national lockdown could be organised to coincide with the October school holidays, in order to limit the impact on children's education.

Sage has suggested that some parts of the hospitality sector could be asked to close, with 10 Downing Street also considering potentially limiting the opening hours of pubs and restaurants across the country. This move has already happened in some areas where local lockdowns are in place.

When could another national lockdown come into place?

Although restrictions such as these could be put in place for a two week period, the duration of these measures, or when they could be put in place, has not yet been finalised.

Mr Hancock would not say how close the UK was to another potential second nationwide lockdown, but expressed that the government would "do what is necessary to keep people safe.”

During an interview with Sky News, Mr Hancock said, “The first line of defence is that everybody should follow the social distancing.

“The contact tracing system, which is working very well, that is the second line of defence. After that, these local lockdowns.”

More than 11 million people in the UK are currently under more stringent coronavirus restrictions which have been imposed locally, in areas including Birmingham, Greater Manchester, Leicester, the North East and Lanarkshire.

New restrictions have also been announced for parts of Lancashire, Merseyside and Warrington, which will ban residents in 17 council areas from meeting others outside their support bubbles, alongside including a 10pm curfew on nightlife. The measures will come into force on Tuesday 22 September.

Mr Hancock commented, “The last line of defence is for national action. And, I don’t want to see that. But we will do whatever is necessary to keep people safe in a very difficult pandemic.”

A version of this article was originally published on our sister title, Sunderland Echo.