In a press conference at 5pm on Saturday, October 31, Boris Johnson is expected to announce a new national lockdown across the UK, after a rapid rise in coronavirus cases.
Determined to “save Christmas”, the Prime Minister has been forced to act after Britain’s infections increased and Tier 3 restrictions across much of England failed to stem the spread.
The Telegraph understands that the measures being discussed in Downing Street would last only until December 1 – similar to a short-term, ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown – but it is not certain that a longer lockdown will not be needed.
Will there be a circuit breaker lockdown?
Pressure continues to grow on the Government to impose a short-term circuit-breaker lockdown in England in a bid to get rising coronavirus infections under control.
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer has called on the Government to impose a two to three-week circuit breaker to prevent a “sleepwalk into a long and bleak winter”. He is backed by Government scientific advisers, the NHS and the National Education Union, Britain’s biggest teaching union.
Some scientists, including the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Patrick Vallance, have suggested the newly announced three-tier local-alert system does not go far enough, and only universal measures have any chance of curbing the second wave of the virus.
However, these claims come after the latest news that the whole of Nottinghamshire will enter Tier 3 restrictions on Friday. The entire county will enter the highest lockdown measure.
Wales imposed a two-week “fire break” lockdown on Friday October 23.
What will this mean for our daily lives, how long could a circuit-breaker lockdown last, and where is the proof it will work?
What is a circuit breaker?
A circuit-breaker is an automatic switch installed in an electrical circuit that flips and breaks the flow of electricity when there is a power surge or a short-circuit, preventing fire and other damage.
A circuit-breaker lockdown would therefore see Britons sever almost all contact with people outside their own household by shutting non-essential businesses and stopping social interactions.
Restrictions on daily life might include:
Pubs, restaurants and entertainment venues forced to close.
Household mixing banned in areas where it is not already.
People would be told to work from home if possible and warned not to take public transport unless necessary.
How long could it last?
A circuit-breaker, if imposed, would probably last a maximum of two to three weeks.
The idea is to interrupt the flow of the virus and allow time for a longer-term plan to be put in place, before cases overload the NHS.
Professor Calum Semple, a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), warned that prevention is better than cure.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s always easier to reduce an outbreak at the earlier stage than to let it run and then try to reduce it at a later stage.”