Sir Keir Starmer says new national lockdown should start NOW, not on Thursday as Labour claims vindication on calling for circuit breaker lockdown two weeks ago
- Sir Keir Starmer indicated that the Labour Party will back Boris Johnson’s new England-wide shutdown
- He said that lockdown should have happened ‘weeks ago’ and said delaying until Thursday will ‘cost lives’
- London Mayor Sadiq Khan accused the Government of ‘dithering and delaying’ as Covid-19 cases rise
- Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds took at swipe at Government’s ‘inexcusable’ ‘lack of clarity on support’
- Prime Minister unveiled draconian Covid-19 restrictions at a Downing Street press conference tonight
Sir Keir Starmer tonight called for a second national lockdown to start immediately as he claimed vindication for calling for an economy-wrecking ‘circuit-breaker’ two weeks ago.
The Labour leader also indicated that his Party will back the Government in a vote on a new England-wide lockdown due to take place in the House of Commons next week.
He welcomed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plans to plunge the country into a second shutdown, but told reporters tonight that it should have happened ‘weeks ago’.
Meanwhile, London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted that he was ‘furious’ that the Government had ‘dithered and delayed’, saying their ‘indecision will have unimaginable consequences’ for ‘lives and livelihoods’.
And Leader of the Liberal Democrats Sir Ed Davey called the Tory Government ‘an utter shambles’, tweeting: ‘Through dither and delay they have cost jobs and lives. PM must ensure people have the support they need through this lockdown – and start work on a UK wide plan for Christmas.’
It comes as the Prime Minister tonight announced that England will be plunged into a second shutdown, due to take effect from midnight on Thursday until December 2.
People must stay at home unless for specific reasons, such as going to the supermarket or schools, while pubs, restaurants, entertainment venues and non-essential shops will close.
Childcare, early years settings, schools, colleges and universities will remain open, with Mr Johnson telling a No10 press conference: ‘We cannot let this virus damage our children’s futures even more than it has already’.
The Prime Minister also announced that furlough payments at 80 per cent will be extended for the duration of the new national lockdown measures. The furlough scheme ended today.
As England braces for a second national lockdown:
- The UK recorded 326 deaths within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 and 21,915 lab-confirmed cases;
- The National Education Union called for schools and colleges to be shut as part of the lockdown;
- Health Minister said Government could only have predicted need for a second lockdown with ‘crystal ball’;
- SAGE adviser warned Covid-19 is ‘running riot’ across all age groups and hospitals are at risk of being overrun;
- Number of virus patients in hospital has doubled in the past fortnight, with 10,708 patients being treated;
- ONS said 50,000 people were being infected with Covid-19 each day, with 274 deaths reported yesterday;
- A poll by anti-lockdown group Recovery found that more than 70 per cent of people were more worried about the effect of lockdown than they were of catching Covid.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also indicated that his Party will back the Conservative Government in a vote on a new England-wide lockdown due to take place in the House of Commons next week
London Mayor Sadiq Khan tonight tweeted that he was ‘furious’ that the Government had ‘dithered and delayed yet again’
Boris Johnson effectively took the country back to square one as he unveiled a new national month-long lockdown to avoid a ‘medical and moral disaster’ – ordering the public to stay at home until December 2
Sir Keir told reporters tonight: ‘Everybody is concerned about the rise in infections, the hospital admissions and tragically the number of deaths. That’s why three weeks ago, I called for circuit-break.
‘The Government completely rejected that only now to announce the self-same thing. Alas the delay now will cost, the lockdown will be longer, it’ll be harder and there’s a human cost which will be very, very real.
Key points in COVID lockdown Mark 2
- Restrictions will start at midnight on Thursday morning and last until December 2.
- People can only leave their homes for specific reasons, such as to do essential shopping, for outdoor exercise, and for work if they are unable to work from home.
- Non-essential shops will be told to shut, although supermarkets do not need to close off aisles as has happened in Wales.
- Restaurants and bars will be told to shut unless they can operate a takeaway service.
- Businesses that cannot operate remotely – such as construction – should continue as before.
- Exercise is permitted with no limits on frequency, but organised sports – including outdoor activities such as golf – will not be permitted.
- When the lockdown lapses the Tiers system will be reinstated, leaving questions about what metric will be used to decide whether areas can have restrictions eased.
‘Now, there’s no denying these measures are necessary and I’m glad that the Government has finally taken the decision that it should have taken weeks ago.’
He indicated Labour will back the Government in a Commons vote on the shutdown, calling the measures ‘necessary’ but warninh against further delay.
Asked about the restrictions not coming into force until Thursday, the Labour leader told reporters that they should be brought in ‘swiftly’. ‘The last thing we need is days before restrictions come in. If they’re necessary, they’re necessary now,’ he added.
Sir Keir added it was unfair to pretend to the public that Christmas ‘will be normal’, telling reporters: ‘This lockdown is going on to at least December 2, everybody’s seen the figures, and, therefore, I don’t think it’s fair to pretend that Christmas is going to be normal in any sense of the word.
‘I think we need to level with the public on that.
Responding to the No10 press conference, Mr Khan accused the Prime Minister of choosing to ‘completely ignore the expert, scientific advice’.
‘Acting early and decisively is the best way to control this virus, which is why I and many others urged the Government to listen to SAGE and introduce a short, national, circuit breaker weeks ago when it could have saved lives and done the least damage to our economy,’ the Mayor of London tweeted.
‘The Government’s delay means that case numbers are now too high for a short, sharp, circuit breaker to be effective. This has left the Prime Minister with no choice but to introduce a longer national lockdown.
‘It is absolutely imperative that the Government does not repeat its dithering when it comes to the additional economic support that will now clearly be needed.
‘Ministers have a once-in-a-generation responsibility to provide whatever public funding is needed to prop up our economy and support businesses and jobs through this period of much tighter restrictions. The Chancellor needs to stand up urgently and say that he will do whatever it takes for as long as is needed.’
In his statement on the new lockdown measures in England, Mr Khan added: ‘The Prime Minister has done the right thing by extending the furlough scheme which was due to end tomorrow – but he must immediately confirm that it will be at 80 per cent of wages for everyone who needs it.
Mr Khan accused the PM of ‘completely ignor[ing] the expert, scientific advice’. ‘Acting early and decisively is the best way to control this virus, which is why I and many others urged the Government to listen to SAGE and introduce a short, national, circuit breaker weeks ago when it could have saved lives and done the least damage to our economy,’ he tweeted
Labour’s shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds blasted the Government’s ‘inexcusable’ ‘lack of clarity on support’
‘Government support must also include direct grants and loans for businesses in the sectors likely to be worst affected to be made available now.
‘I would like to make a direct appeal to all Londoners as your Mayor: Thank you for the enormous sacrifices you have made over the last seven months. You may not agree with or like the Government’s latest restrictions.
‘However, we must all follow them. Please continue following the restrictions and public health guidance. We must act to protect each other.
Boris Johnson brings in the Army to help roll out ‘rapid turnaround’ tests for Covid for ‘whole cities’ within days
Boris Johnson will bring in the Army to help roll out ‘rapid turnaround tests’ which will see ‘whole cities’ able to tested for Covid within days.
The Prime Minister made the announcement at a Downing Street press conference this evening, as he plunged the nation back into a full lockdown until December 2.
Government scientific advisers have endorsed Mr Johnson’s £100billion Operation Moonshot, which would see 10 million people tested a day regardless of whether they have symptoms, in a paper submitted to Downing St last month.
Population-wide testing has the ability to slash Covid-19’s reproduction rate in half, the experts said.
Britain’s overall R rate – the average number of people each Covid-19 patient infects – is estimated to be as high as 1.5, which has sparked the PM into launching fresh action tonight.
‘I know it won’t be easy, but history tells us that Londoners always pull together in times of crisis. We must once again make huge collective sacrifices now in order to prevent even greater suffering later. I will continue to lobby the Government to finally sort out a fully functioning test and trace system and the financial support London needs. I promise you that our city will get through this together.’
Labour’s shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds blasted the Government’s ‘inexcusable’ ‘lack of clarity on support’.
She tweeted: ‘Dither and delay has damaged public health. After the PM’s speech, many will be wondering how they’ll cope – from the self-employed to those on short contracts, and seeking work.’
Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband slammed the Prime Minister’s ‘terrible misjudgement’ for having ‘delayed necessary for so long’.
He tweeted: ‘Vital now that businesses and workers are properly supported, yet total silence from government on support for the self-employed and grants for most businesses significantly less than in first lockdown.’
Sir Keir had demanded that Britain be plunged into a ‘circuit-breaker’ as soon as possible as he accused the Prime Minister of losing control of the pandemic.
The Labour leader said a shutdown lasting two to three weeks could be timed to take place over half-term to minimise disruption but warned ‘sacrifices’ would have to be made to get the virus back under control.
The Prime Minister effectively took the country back to square one tonight as he unveiled the new national lockdown to avoid a ‘medical and moral disaster’.
After weeks insisting he is sticking to local restrictions, he completed a humiliating U-turn by announcing blanket restrictions for England at a press conference alongside Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance.
Mr Johnson said the draconian measures – which come into force from midnight Thursday morning until December 2 – were the only way to avert bleak Sage predictions of 85,000 deaths this winter, far above the previous ‘reasonable worst case’.
He said otherwise doctors would have to choose between saving Covid sufferers and those with other illnesses.
The Prime Minister pointed out that the action was not the same as March as key sectors of the economy are under orders to stay open, but said he was ‘under no illusions’ about how tough it would be.
He declared that the furlough scheme will be extended for the period, rather than ending tomorrow as originally planned. He also refused to rule out extending the measures beyond the proposed end date. Asked if the time would be enough, the premier said: ‘I hope so. We have every reason to believe it will be.’
Announcing the extension of furlough payments for the month of shutdown, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: ‘Over the past eight months of this crisis we have helped millions of people to continue to provide for their families. But now – along with many other countries around the world – we face a tough winter ahead.
‘I have always said that we will do whatever it takes as the situation evolves. Now, as restrictions get tougher, we are taking steps to provide further financial support to protect jobs and businesses.
‘These changes will provide a vital safety net for people across the UK.
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