Boris Johnson has unveiled a “five-step” plan for imposing more coronavirus “local lockdowns” like the one seen in Leicester.
As tens of thousands of pubs, cafes and hairdressers prepare to reopen tomorrow, the Prime Minister admitted there will be more outbreaks of Covid-19.
But he claimed his approach will be – if at all possible – to avoid a full national lockdown like the one in March.
Instead, entire cities could go into lockdown like Leicester, which this week was told to re-shut all its non-essential shops with just a few hours’ notice.
The Prime Minister said there would be five key components in deciding whether to impose a local lockdown, overseen by Public Health England and a new ‘Joint Biosecurity Centre’.
The five stages are:
- Monitoring: PHE and the JBC examine emerging trends and local factors, and talk to local directors of public health.
- Engagement: Where local problems are identified, PHE works with the council to understand what’s causing the issue and inform the community.
- Testing: Emergency bonus testing capacity like mobile units or walk-in centres are set up and local people encouraged to get a test.
- Targeted restrictions: Closing individual workplaces or buildings that have been the source of an outbreak, such as hospitals, GP surgeries or specific businesses.
- Local lockdown imposed: Non-essential shops, pubs, hotels, schools, restaurants or more in an entire city, county, village or otherwise are told to close and travel in and out is discouraged.
Tonight’s announcement comes after the government came under furious attack for its handling of Leicester’s local lockdown.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock first admitted there was a problem in the city more than 10 days after the local lockdown was imposed.
Leicester’s mayor said he did not obtain detailed testing data for the city until days before the local lockdown – a complaint echoed by many councils.
For much of the time, ‘Pillar 2’ testing data – which shows result from drive-through centres and home testing kits – was missing from official figures.
The government insisted it had been offered to councils and some had simply failed to sign a data release form. It added other steps in the process had to be tried first before a full local lockdown.
Mr Johnson today urged the nation to “enjoy summer safely” as venues across England reopen tomorrow.
He added a timetable to reopen gyms, swimming pools and nail bars in England will be unveiled “next week”, while cricket could resume from next weekend.
But England’s Chief Medical Officer warned we are walking a “narrow path” between economic catastrophe and a spike in the coronavirus.
Professor Chris Whitty warned that “this virus is a long way from gone” as he appeared with the Prime Minister on the eve of pubs reopening across England.
He added: “It is not going to be gone for a long time.
“Nobody watching this believes this is a risk-free next step.
“We have to be absolutely serious about it.”