Rishi Sunak: Britain will not go into another lockdown this winter

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4-min read
Rishi Sunak: Britain will not go into another lockdown this winter
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Rishi Sunak has said Britain will not go into another lockdown because of the success of the vaccine rollout.

Speaking to The Times, the chancellor said there must not be a return to “significant economic restrictions” despite warnings from some health experts that the virus could overwhelm the NHS this winter.

Mr Sunak said the vaccine scheme and booster jabs meant that Britain had moved into a new phase of controlling the virus.

“I think we’re just in a very different place to where we were a year ago because of the vaccine,” he said.

“There’s this enormous wave of protection, and that changes things. That’s our first line of defence.”

He added that ministers had always said the winter would be “challenging” but that did not mean resorting to policies that would harm the economy.

“There’s a range of options that are available, and those are not options that involve lockdowns or very significant economic restrictions,” he added.

His comments echoed those made by Boris Johnson on Friday, who also ruled out lockdowns this winter.

On a visit to a vaccination centre in west London, the prime minister was asked whether a full lockdown with “stay at home” advice and shops closing was out of the question this winter, and he replied: “I’ve got to tell you at the moment that we see absolutely nothing to indicate that that’s on the cards at all.”

It comes as scientific advisers told the Government that it must ensure “Plan B” restrictions to tackle coronavirus can be “rapidly” deployed if needed.

Experts on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said, in minutes of a meeting published on Friday, that a further huge spike in infections as seen in January was “increasingly unlikely”, as experts predicted a series of broader, flatter peaks as the virus continues to spread.

However, in its meeting dated October 14, Sage warned that measures from the Government’s Plan B would have greatest effect if brought in in unison and earlier on rather than later.

Scientists are in favour of a relatively light-touch approach, implemented earlier to make a difference, with Sage saying the “reintroduction of working-from-home guidance is likely to have the greatest individual impact on transmission out of the proposed measures” in Plan B, which also includes the mandatory use of face masks.

The government are urging people eligible to get the Covid booster jabs amid surging Covid cases and a lower enthusiasm than for the initial doses.

In a video posted on Twitter, Mr Johnson said: “This pandemic isn’t over and the danger hasn’t gone away.

“It’s just as vital to get your booster if you are called as it was to get your first and second jabs.”

Meanwhile, a statement from unions representing three million people, seen by the Guardian, criticised the Government’s “laissez-faire approach to managing the pandemic”.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady told the paper: “We all want to beat Covid once and for all and to avoid further lockdowns. But without decisive action now we risk sleepwalking into another winter of chaos.”

The rollout of the first and second doses of the coronavirus vaccine across the country has been widely celebrated, however the uptake of booster vaccines has not been as swift.

The slower progress as colder months draw near could be one of the reasons for Dr Lawson being moved back to the NHS from No 10.

The ex-chairwoman of the UK vaccine taskforce Dame Kate Bingham said she feared the “great British success story” of vaccination is “at risk of stalling”.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, she said: “I am genuinely worried that the great gains we have made in the last ten months risk being eroded with potentially serious consequences.

“Like everyone else, I don’t want to … go back to that anxious existence where elderly people are prisoners in their own homes, normal family life is curtailed and leisure, entertainment and sporting activities are halted.

“I don’t want Christmas on Zoom. And, most of all, I don’t want people becoming seriously ill and dying when it can be avoided.”

Fewer than half of eligible residents in older age care homes in England have received a coronavirus booster jab, the latest available NHS data suggests.

And average daily hospital admissions in England of people with Covid-19 have climbed to their highest level for nearly eight months.

An estimated 5.3 million booster doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been delivered in the UK.

It means around one in nine people in the UK who have received a first and second dose of vaccine are likely to have also received a booster.

Read More

£74 million plan to replace Border Force boats to tackle illegal migration

What the papers say – October 24

What to expect from Sunak’s £20 billion Budget

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting