The Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, has urged Boris Johnson to impose a new national lockdown in England within the next 24 hours to tackle the “out of control” coronavirus.
Speaking after the prime minister acknowledged that Covid-19 restrictions were “probably about to get tougher”, Starmer said immediate action must be taken. “The virus is clearly out of control,” he said on Sunday. “There’s no good [in] the prime minister hinting that further restrictions are coming into place in a week, or two or three.
“That delay has been the source of so many problems. So, I say, bring in those restrictions now, national restrictions, within the next 24 hours. That has to be the first step to controlling the virus.”
On Sunday, the UK recorded 454 Covid deaths that had taken place within 28 days of a positive test, bringing the official coronavirus death toll over 75,000. Government figures also showed there were a further 54,990 Covid infections – the sixth day in a row the number was above 50,000.
Earlier, Johnson said he was “fully reconciled” to potentially having to “do things in the next few weeks that will be tougher”, and that coronavirus curbs were “probably about to get tougher”.
Nearly eight in 10 people in England are already under tier 4 “stay at home” measures, which include the closure of non-essential shops and strict one-to-one outdoor meeting limits between households, but Johnson suggested stricter restrictions could be introduced.
Asked whether it may be necessary to introduce tougher, “tier 5” restrictions in the near future, Johnson told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show: “It may be that we need to do things in the next few weeks that will be tougher in … many parts of the country … I’m fully, fully reconciled to that. And I bet the people of this country are reconciled to that.”
Speaking later on Sunday, Starmer said there should be no delay. “We can’t allow the prime minister to use up the next two or three weeks and then bring in the national lockdown that is inevitable. Do it now. That’s the necessary first step to get the virus back under control.”
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