Boris Johnson planning 'backdoor lockdown' if coronavirus spreads

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is drawing up plans that could in effect be a ‘lockdown by the back door’ if the current restrictions fail to suppress the spread of coronavirus.

This week Mr Johnson introduced the rule of six banning people from gathering in almost all locations in groups larger than six.

And at the end of the week hospitality venues will have to take contact details for all customers by law.

But if those measures fail to stop the current rapid rise of new coronavirus cases – with 3,000 new cases a day – and hospitalizations – now at the highest rate since July – then tougher steps will be taken.

According to The Mirror, plans for the next step are now being drawn up.

One senior Whitehall source told the Mirror : “Boris Johnson is so paranoid about announcing a second national lockdown that he’ll just bring in one by the back door.”

The measures could include telling 4.5million of those most susceptible to the worst impacts of coronavirus to self-isolate – staying at home and avoiding contact as much as possible.

There could also be a curfew on pubs, cafes, restaurants and other sites with venues ordered to close in the evenings.

Curfews are being trialled in Bolton and London’s director of Public Health warned there could be more “local curfews” on drinking, including in the capital.

Professor Kevin Fenton told the Evening Standard: “In some areas which have seen resurgence there have been limits placed on the amount of time you can spend socialising.

“In some it might be local curfews so you’re not out drinking until the wee hours of the morning.

“By limiting that you also limit the amount of time people are spending in close contact with others.”

Prof Fenton also pointed to other measures, such as increasing the promotion of mask-wearing, stronger public health warnings and more focus on making workplaces Covid-secure.

Other measures that could be taken, according to reports, include telling people to avoid public transport again.

The Government may tell people to start working from home again.

A decision will have to be made within a fortnight – the amount of time needed to assess whether the latest social restriction has had an effect.

A senior member of the Government told ITV they were considering “pretty much every social distancing measure should be contemplated other than school closures.”

Another source admitted the Government may now have to consider “more nationwide measures”.

They told The Telegraph: “If it doesn’t get contained it may be that some things that have been open, you need to think about whether measures need to be taken to reverse things.

“The strategy is to manage this through local outbreak management, but if it moves in the direction of Spain, then clearly you can see what’s happening there, and in France, people are making more nationwide measures.”

A No10 spokesman added: “We’re doing everything we can to ensure children remain in school.”

The World Health Organisation today said Governments may have to make a choice of whether to keep pubs or schools open this winter.

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