Boris Johnson of UK considering new national lockdown for England: media


LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to impose a new one-month national lockdown on England next week after scientists warned the coronavirus was spreading faster than their worst predictions, local media reported.
The pandemic is spreading to most parts of Britain, where the official death toll of 46,299 is the highest in Europe.
Johnson is expected to hold a press conference on Monday to announce the new measures, which would only allow essential shops and schools, nurseries and universities to remain open, The Times reported.
The new measures were still under discussion and no final decision had been taken, the newspaper said, citing a high-level government source.
The prime minister’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.
Currently the government has a three tier restriction system for local areas in England, with tier 3 being the highest. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own policies to tackle the pandemic.
A member of the government science advisory group for emergencies (SAGE) warned on Saturday that the virus was “rampant” in all age groups.
“For those naysayers who don’t believe in a second wave, there is a second wave,” Calum Semple, professor of epidemic medicine at the University of Liverpool, told the BBC.
“And unlike the first wave, where we had a nationwide lockdown that protected huge swathes of society, this epidemic is now raging across all age groups.”
A new lockdown would put further pressure on Finance Minister Rishi Sunak and the Bank of England to step up their already huge support for Britain’s economy, the sixth largest in the world. The economy fell a record 20% in the spring and is struggling to maintain its recovery.
In the current system, level 3 includes a ban on mixing people from different households, pubs and bars are closed, wedding receptions are not allowed, and travel to or from the area should be avoided.
The government is also considering stricter regional measures, known as Tier 4, but ministers would support a national policy, the Times said.
Some analysts said regional restrictions on businesses in recent weeks would cause the economy to contract further in the fourth quarter and a nationwide lockdown would inflict greater damage.
The BoE is expected to increase its bond buying program on Thursday for the third time since the pandemic struck in March. Most economists polled by Reuters predicted an additional £ 100 billion.

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