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The Prime Minister’s new rules will aim to tackle the rapid growth of the virus in northern hotspots such as Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle. Large parts of his plans were leaked to media outlets, prompting a backlash from local leaders in the North, who claimed they were kept in the dark.
As part of his three-tier local lockdown system, Mr Johnson is poised to shut down hospitality venues in areas in the top tier.
Schools, universities and officers will remain open.
Reports suggest areas in “tier one” will not have any additional measures slapped on.
The only restriction in place would be the current 10pm curfew for restaurants and bars.
A report in the Guardian suggested ministers do not have the full support of their scientific advisers, some of whom believe the new curbs do not extend far enough.
Members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) fear that “fringe” anti-lockdown epidemiologists, many of whom have gained momentum on social media, are getting too much attention.
Sage experts are said to be sceptical about the prospect of bringing cases down by imposing a hospitality shutdown in the North and parts of the Midlands.
Some members of the group suggested a “circuit-breaker” lockdown similar to that which will come into effect in Scotland today would be a better option.
They said such measures should have been imposed across England two or three weeks ago.
This would have seen bars and restaurants forced to close for two weeks in a bid to lower the infection rate and reduce hospital admissions.
MPs representing constituencies in the Midlands and north of England – where case numbers are highest – were briefed by the chief scientific adviser Professor Chris Whitty on Thursday.
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One of those who joined the call said it was implied that the NHS may not cope if case numbers continued to rise in the areas.
The group were shown a graph containing early analysis by Public Health England which suggested that hospitality is a major factor in the spread of the disease.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has hit out at the Tory Government’s handling of the crisis.
He claimed ministers had “lost control of the virus” and urged them to “get a grip” as infections mounted.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he said: “It was an act of gross irresponsibility for anonymous Number 10 sources to tell a few newspapers on Thursday about plans to impose further restrictions on millions of people, without any detail, without any consultation and without any statement from the Prime Minister.
“This has significantly added to the sense of confusion, chaos and unfairness in the approach that is being taken.”
On Thursday the UK recorded 609 new coronavirus hospital admissions – an increase of a fifth from the previous day.
The UK’s death toll rose by 77 to reach 42,592.
And 17,540 fresh infections were declared which brought the overall total to 561,815.
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