Restaurants, pubs and other hospitality businesses could be shut or asked to close early for a few weeks as part of a national “circuit break” to stop a surge in coronavirus cases in England getting out of control.
The measures are being considered, according to the BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, as the number of cases of the virus is doubling every seven to eight days, with more than 3,300 new cases reported on Thursday.
Schools and workplaces would remain open but hospitality businesses would have “circuit breaks” – essentially shutting their doors or changing their opening hours for a few weeks.
New lockdown measures are also expected to be introduced in Lancashire – with the exception of Blackpool, the BBC reported. It follows local lockdowns brought in elsewhere in the north of England.
The government is considering the proposal for circuit breaks, although a final decision has not been made. Boris Johnson is said to be against another national lockdown, which would mean shops and businesses would close.
The MP for Stockport in Greater Manchester was delighted this week to receive a letter promising a new testing site in his constituency, where the infection rate is almost double the national average.
There was only one problem: the much-needed facility was 240 miles away – in Kent.
In a letter to the Labour MP Navendu Mishra, the health minister Lord Bethell wrote: “I am writing to update you on the provision of Coronavirus testing in Stockport.”
However, the letter added: “I wanted to write to you to confirm that we are opening a Local Test Site in your constituency at the Jellicoe Building Car Park – University of Greenwich, over the coming days.”
Even for a national testing programme that frequently directs people to facilities far outside their hometowns, a nine-hour round trip to Kent would be something of a stretch for Stopfordians.
The letter from Bethell, a “minister of innovation” at the department of health and social care, said officials had “engaged with local stakeholders to narrow down the location and identify a suitable site”. However, it added: “I hope this site will make it easier for many people in Brompton to access testing” – a possible reference to West Brompton in south-west London
I know we haven’t seen the details of the Government’s parliamentary boundary review yet but it would appear that the new Stockport constituency will stretch all the way to Kent!
This once again highlights the government’s complete mishandling of the Covid crisis, further putting lives at risk as we enter the second wave. Never mind Operation Moonshot – this Government can’t even provide tests for those that need them.