UK govt mulling fresh restrictions amid virus spike

Published October 8, 2020
A woman walks near an electronic road sign displaying Covid-19 information in Bolton town centre on October 7. — AFP
A woman walks near an electronic road sign displaying Covid-19 information in Bolton town centre on October 7. — AFP

The British government is mulling fresh restrictions on everyday life in England amid mounting evidence that the measures so far have done little to keep a lid on new coronavirus infections.

With the number of people needing to go to hospital with virus-related conditions rising, and in some areas in the north of England alarmingly so, the pressure on the government to do more is mounting.

"We are currently considering what steps we should take, obviously taking the advice of our scientific and medical advisers, and a decision will be made shortly," British Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told the BBC on Thursday.

"In some parts of the country, the number of cases are rising very fast and we are taking that very seriously," he added.

The hospitality industry in the north of England is thought likely to face additional restrictions in coming days, potentially akin to those announced in Scotland on Wednesday.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon ordered pubs in Scotland's two biggest cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh, to close and restricted food and drink business in the rest of the country.

As elsewhere in Europe, restrictions have been reimposed in the UK over the past few weeks. following a spike in new coronavirus infections. On top of national restrictions, there are many local measures, largely relating to the number of people allowed to gather.

However, there is growing evidence to show that those areas that have seen additional restrictions have not experienced a slowdown in the epidemic.

In some areas, the number of new infections is 10 times higher than when the localised restrictions were announced.

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