The government’s strategy of dividing the country into tiers to deal with local coronavirus flare-ups risks putting the nation into lockdown over Christmas, a Labour councillor has said.
Councillor Kieron Williams, the Labour and Co-operative leader of Southwark Council in London, said more drastic action was needed immediately to stem the recent large surge in cases and prevent a further national lockdown in the future.
Williams called for a “circuit breaker” lockdown, and accused the government of failing to listen to scientific advice.
“With positive cases rising at worrying speed in Southwark and across London, I’m calling on the government to urgently implement a circuit breaker,” he said.
“It’s imperative that we follow scientific advice without delay, or we will be risking people’s health. There is no way to dress up the facts here – we are at a critical point and without immediate action, people in Southwark will needlessly die.
“I urge the government to follow Sage’s advice and implement a circuit breaker this month.
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“I know what a worrying time this is for our residents and businesses, but a short period of tighter restrictions could be less painful to the local economy and to families than something which essentially draws the process out for longer and risks future lockdown over Christmas as cases continue to rise.”
It comes after Boris Johnson promised on Monday to do his “absolute best” to give the country a normal Christmas this year.
Announcing the new three-tier system, the prime minister said the possibility of relaxed social distancing measures over the festive period would depended on the country's success in lowering the number of coronavirus cases.
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"All I can say to millions who are wondering the same question is that we will do our absolute best to try to make sure we get life back to as close as possible for Christmas," he said.
"But that is going to depend I'm afraid on our success in getting this virus down, and our ability as a country to follow through on the package of measures.
"I have said it before and I will say it again but it will mean in those local areas that we talked about, we are not only going to intensify the measures but we are going to have to enforce generally the social distancing, the rules, the guidance - hands, face, space.”
"Get a test if you have symptoms, self isolate if you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace.
"All that basic stuff is essential if we are going to come out of this and allow people to have anything like a normal Christmas."