Boris Johnson has suggested England could be set for even tougher Covid restrictions in the coming weeks, which could mean a national lockdown similar to what was experienced last March.
The Prime Minister said this morning that he was “entirely reconciled to doing what it takes to get the virus down” and that this “may involve tougher measures in the weeks ahead”.
Speaking about the Covid tiering system, Boris Johnson also told the BBC that it is “probably about to get tougher”.
The UK yesterday recorded 57,725 new cases of coronavirus and a further 445 deaths.
That brings the national Covid death toll over the last seven days to 4,091 – a 20 per cent increase from the week before.
Rates of infection are particularly bad in London and the South East, where the new ultra virulent strain of the virus was first found.
The Prime Minister said this morning that blanket school closures and a ban on all household mixing in any form are the type of measures that could be implemented in England.
“We’re using the tiering system, which is a very tough system…and alas probably about to get tougher to keep things under control, but we’ll review it and we have the prospect of vaccines coming down the track in their tens of millions, offering people literally life and hope,” he said.
“This should keep people going through…a very bumpy period right now. It is bumpy and it’s going to be bumpy.”
Johnson has been criticised by some Labour MPs and teachers’ unions for not entirely delaying the re-opening of schools this month.
Primary school students are set to go back next week in most of country, with the worst affected areas in the country exempted.
Secondary schools will remain closed until at least 18 January, except for vulnerable children and children of frontline essential workers.
Sir Mark Walport, an adviser on the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told the BBC that it’s “pretty clear” the UK would need to implement tougher Covid restrictions and shut down schools.
“At the end of the day the thing that stops the virus is keeping people apart,” he said.
“The virus can only get from one person to another through proximity so it really is about doing everything we possibly can to keep ourselves as safe as possible.”