Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was furious yesterday after supporting calls to bring Britain into lockdown again.
Mr Hunt, along with Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer, supported a national “breaker” that would see the country stay at home for two or three weeks over half the semester, with pubs, shops, restaurants, gyms and hairdressers closing.
Given that hundreds of thousands of jobs are already at risk from stricter restrictions, critics warned that such a move would be the hospitality industry's “final nail in the coffin”.
Others warned that any new lockdown – like the initial three-month lockdown that was originally supposed to last only three weeks – would last much longer and have "catastrophic" effects.
Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt (pictured) was furious yesterday after supporting calls to push Britain into lockdown again
When asked about the possibility of a circuit breaker, Hunt told BBC Radio 4's Today program, “I've always thought that it was better to get things done quickly and decisively than wait for the virus to grow, so I have big things Understanding That. & # 39;
While trade organizations and leaders within Mr Hunt's party reacted with dismay, some MPs interpreted this as the first step in a cynical plan to overthrow old rival Boris Johnson and position himself as a future leadership candidate.
"Jeremy senses Boris is in a difficult position and I think he's sticking the boot in," said a senior Tory MP.
& # 39; He lost the leadership election, but he's been constantly hanging around the margins. He does the same thing as Starmer – we go into a lock when we gamble. In that case, he will say, "Well, I told you."
360 pounds good for kissing
A couple in Milan have been fined € 400 for kissing in the street for removing their masks in breach of coronavirus restrictions.
After kissing on the way to a restaurant, the engaged couple said they were surrounded by four police officers.
The couple – a 40-year-old Italian and a Polish woman – had reportedly been engaged for two and a half years.
In Italy there is no obligation for people who live together to wear a mask in public.
The couple received the fine after they could not prove to officers that they lived at the same address.
"If Jeremy is making a comeback, this is the right course of action," said another, adding that if Mr. Hunt was right about a lockdown, it could lead to him replacing beleaguered Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
"He could go back to his old department, run the country through Covid, and then take the top job," the MP said.
The prime minister said last week he would try to avoid a second national shutdown "if at all possible" but "don't rule anything out".
Instead, he has pushed a targeted battle plan with local restrictions that has more than 28 million people living under more stringent measures. At midnight yesterday, Londoners were among those immersed in the Tier 2 alert group that bans different households from meeting indoors.
Kate Nicholls, managing director of the UK Hospitality retail organization, told The Mail on Sunday that a full lockdown over half the term would be "catastrophic" and the "last nail in the coffin" for many bars, hotels and restaurants.
She added, “You have effectively survived two winters this year with no income – a third would not be sustainable.
& # 39; One in five hasn't reopened and a second lock would be the last nail in the coffin.
& # 39; The half of October is now more important than Easter for stays and domestic tourism. The industry is already forecast to lose half of its income this year, and we know that tourism will be vital to our recovery over the next year. & # 39;
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, former Conservative Party leader, said: “The problem with blocking national breakers is that they last much longer than you think. In March, we were promised a three-week lockdown that eventually resulted in a three-month lockdown.
“Companies are about to go out and if we go to a full national lockdown where you shut everything down, a lot of companies that just survived the last lockdown will leave. It will have a devastating impact on the economy and people's health.
“At least we have to give the changes that are already taking place a chance to work. We cannot open and close any further.
& # 39; The devastation this time would be total. All of these politicians and scientists have given up the economy completely. They think the economy is not important.
“My government colleagues speak as if we are suffering from the plague. The death rate is tiny at the moment. & # 39;
While trade organizations and leaders within Mr Hunt's party reacted with dismay, some MPs interpreted this as the first step in a cynical plan to overthrow old rival Boris Johnson and position himself as a future leadership candidate
Mr Hunt's intervention followed remarks from scientific advisor Sir John Bell, who said he "sees little way of doing this without a breaker because the numbers are actually quite tearful".
However, Professor Paul Hunter, who advises the World Health Organization, said a two to three week lockdown would be nowhere near enough to bring the virus back under control.
Nothing less than a lengthy second lockdown lasting at least two months would have a significant impact on the course of the virus, he argued.
Professor Hunter said a "breaker" would delay the virus, but since there is a delay in reporting new infections in official statistics, "you would see no material chance in the direction of the epidemic" for two weeks after it was triggered .
He said the "cruel math of infection" – where cases tend to rise two to three times faster than fall – means that the virus would rise again quickly after a breaker broke down.
To keep virus rates low, a circuit breaker must be used every month until a vaccine is available or herd immunity is achieved.
Mr Hunt also called for an end to the "public war of words" between Andy Burnham, Greater Manchester Mayor who opposes narrow curbs, and Mr Johnson.
“I think what is more important now is that we end this public war of words between local and national leaders because in a pandemic, the most important thing is a consistent message because you really have to obey the very, very important public health messages about social ones Distancing, ”he added.
Mr Johnson said the situation in Greater Manchester was "serious" last Friday when he pressured Mr Burnham to agree to new rules, but the region's political leaders continue to oppose the pressure.
Welcome to London … Once the beating heart of the UK economy
The almost deserted skyscrapers of London's financial district Canary Wharf yesterday offered a clearly gloomy view beneath a gray cloud cover.
In a scene that was hard to imagine earlier in the year, a lively sign on the left warned that the local Covid alert level was “high” and advised passers-by that it was now illegal, “People everywhere indoors to meet socially ”.
Canary Wharf is home to the headquarters of banking and finance companies such as HSBC, Barclays and JP Morgan. But almost all of the 120,000 workers who once filled the office floors and flocked to local cafes and bars are now working from home.
London's nine million residents passed stricter Tier 2 restrictions after midnight yesterday, banning people from separate households from mixing indoors, including pubs and restaurants.
On Friday, crowds came downtown for one final drink before the new rules went into effect. Police were on the lookout for "dangerous and reckless" Covid violations when people left the pubs after the 10pm curfew.
Although Londoners will still be able to meet members of other households in groups of up to six in beer gardens, the view is less likely to become attractive in winter.
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