Coronavirus lockdown: Matt Hancock says closure of pubs by this weekend cannot be ruled out

Ashley Cowburn
·3-min read
Matt Hancock appears on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday (GC Images)
Matt Hancock appears on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday (GC Images)

Matt Hancock has refused to rule out pubs closing once again this weekend, as he warned the country is facing a “tipping point” in the fight against coronavirus.

The health secretary’s comments come as Boris Johnson considers options for further restrictions on public life amid a recent surge in the number of Covid-19 cases detected in the UK.

On Friday, the prime minister said the country is “now seeing a second wave” of the virus, conceding the government may need to go further than the “rule of six”, introduced just seven days ago.

Pressed on ITV’s This Morning whether landlords would be allowed to welcome customers into their pubs this weekend, the health secretary replied: “Well, we’ll be absolutely clear about changes that we need to make in the very, very near future.”

Watch: Matt Hancock - 10pm curfew for pubs

Quizzed again, he added: “It’s not a no, and it’s not a yes. We’ve been working on this all weekend, we haven’t taken the final decisions about what what we need to do in response to the surge that we have seen in the last few weeks.”

However, Mr Hancock said he wanted the Christmas period to be “as normal as possible”, adding: "If this runs out of control now, then we'll have to take heavier measures in the future.

"The more we can control it now by everybody doing that bit, including us - absolutely - but everybody together, then the easier it is going to be to have as normal a Christmas as possible."

On the possibility of a vaccine, he added: "For the mass rollout we're talking about the first bit of next year, if all goes well.

"Hopefully in the first few months - there's still a chance of it coming on stream before Christmas, but we've then got to roll it out and the first people who will get it are the people who are most vulnerable - people in care homes, older people.

"There's a series of different vaccines, but we are talking about - essentially, for it to have an impact on how we live our lives - we're talking about the start of next year."

During a live broadcast to the public on Monday, Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific officer and Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer for England, will also issue a warning about the spread of Covid-19.

“The trend in the UK is heading in the wrong direction and we are at a critical point in the pandemic,” professor Whitty will say. “We are looking at data to see how to manage the spread of the virus ahead of a very challenging winter period.”

Read more

Coronavirus news - live: UK at 'critical point' as London mayor discussing stricter lockdown measures

‘It isn’t very British’: MPs divided over government call to snoop on coronavirus rule-breaching neighbours

Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance to issue stark warning to the public over coronavirus second wave

UK lockdown: Government must explain justification for any new coronavirus measures, MPs say