Lockdown Forever: Boris Johnson Set to Announce Second National Lockdown
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to impose a second national lockdown in England next week, as government models predict a deadly second wave of the Chinese coronavirus in the winter.
Mr Johnson will reportedly address the nation on Monday to announce the new lockdown measures, which are anticipated to run from next Wednesday until the first of December.
A new “stay at home” order, as well as the closure of all non-essential businesses, including pubs and restaurants, are believed to be in the new national lockdown measures. “Educational settings” such as schools, universities, and colleges are said to be exempt from the restrictions, however.
A senior government source told The Times: “The data is really bad. We’re seeing coronavirus rising all over the country and hospitals are struggling to cope. There has been a shift in our position.”
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Mr Johnson has been reticent to implement a second national lockdown, previously warning that it could result in a “Hotel California” scenario in which there is no end in sight to the lockdown once it is set in place.
Government advisors have warned the Prime Minister, however, that with the rising cases, local lockdowns or even a two-week “circuit breaker” lockdown will be insufficient, and NHS hospitals will be overwhelmed.
A scientific advisor to the government said: “It’s definitely too late to think that the two-week circuit breaker on its own would sort us out… It almost certainly would need to go on for longer.”
“This is going in the wrong direction and it’s been going in the wrong direction for a while… If the trajectory doesn’t change, you end up with hospitals coming under very significant pressure as happened in the first wave,” he added.
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Government documents seen by the BBC paint a bleak picture for the winter, predicting that the death toll may be higher than the initial outbreak, with models projecting between 2,000 to 4,000 deaths per day compared to the height of 1,000 per day during the spring.
This week the daily death toll in England climbed to nearly 200, and advisors have warned that the deaths may double within the next two to four weeks.
Some have taken aim at the Government’s projections as well as lockdowns as a whole.
Former director of the World Health Organization (WHO) Professor Karol Sikora told the Daily Mail: “It makes no sense, the other problem is even if you lower the R number when you come out of it it just bounces back up.”
“It’s much more sensible to do a regional approach, just carry on doing what we’re doing. Down in Cornwall there’s no point doing everything,” he added.
Professor Sunetra Gupta of Oxford University said that the lockdowns will prevent the herd immunity levels needed to ultimately stem the tide of the virus, saying: “I don’t believe there’s been an increase in death rates. There have been increases in infection which is very much in line with what you’d expect if lockdown prevented immunity from building up.”
Gupta said that people at high risk for the virus should shield themselves while allowing the young and physically fit to build immunity.
“Infections are building now, because some areas do not have the immunity we would have expected had we not gone into complete lockdown,” she said.
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Business leaders have also come out against the proposed national lockdown, including Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UK Hospitality, who said another lockdown would be “absolutely devastating” for the sector.
“If we are to get through another national lockdown in hospitality… then we are going to need significant additional help to be able to get through this,” Nicholls said.
“People have borrowed up to the hilt, people have spent money in order to get Covid-secure. There is no spare capacity in the tank to be able to fund a lockdown — even for three to four weeks,” she warned.
The chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, Mike Cherry, concurred, noting that a lockdown would be “incredibly frustrating” for small businesses in the United Kingdom that have already spent thousands on safety measures to comply with government regulations.
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