Senior figures in Boris Johnson’s UK government privately believe the coronavirus lockdown will be extended in England until next year, despite currently being due to end at the start of December, according to reports.
Johnson announced on Saturday that England will go into lockdown on Thursday November 5 until December 2.
However, Michael Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, over the weekend admitted that the four-week lockdown could be extended if it did not sufficiently bring the virus under control.
Asked on Sunday whether the new lockdown could be extended beyond four weeks, Gove told Sky News “yes” and said: “We will always take a decision in the national interest, based on evidence.”
“I think it’ll be after the new year. The rate of transmission is not going to go down enough to justify it. Just look at the graphs. It’s going to be a jobs disaster,” one said. Another said: “The fear will be that in four weeks’ time deaths will be higher than they are now, which will give credibility to people who want to keep national measures in place.”
The newspaper reported that the government was working on a plan that would see some rules relaxed over the Christmas period.
Members of Parliament on Wednesday are set to approve a new lockdown that will see pubs, restaurants, and non-essential shops close and social mixing limited to outdoor meetings between individuals from two different households. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has U-turned on his recent staunch opposition to a new national lockdown amid growing coronavirus case numbers and hospitalizations.
Shoppers queue outside Ikea in Batley, West Yorkshire, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new national lockdown will come into force in England next week.
Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images
Johnson is on Monday expected to tell members of parliament that he “will seek to” ease the new national restrictions when the four-week period expires on December 2, and move England back into a tiered system of regional lockdown measures.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak today told BBC Radio 4 that the new lockdown measures would end “as a matter of law” on December 2. “Our expectation and firm hope is that the measures put in place will be sufficient to do the job we need,” he said.