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13th Oct 2020

Keir Starmer calls for 2-3 week ‘circuit break’ national lockdown

Wayne Farry

Starmer called for the ‘circuit break’ to take place over half term

Labour party leader Keir Starmer has called for a two to three week ‘circuit break’ national lockdown to try and curtail the rapid rise in coronavirus cases seen across the United Kingdom in recent weeks.

Speaking at a Labour news conference called in response to prime minister Boris Johnson’s three-tier lockdown system which is due to be enacted across England, Starmer made what was his most forceful speech of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I am calling for a two-to-three week circuit break in England in line with SAGE’s recommendation,” said Starmer.

“A temporary set of clear and effective restrictions designed to get the R rate down and reverse the trend of infections and hospital admissions.

“This would not mean closing schools. But if this happens imminently….it can be timed to run across half-term to minimise disruption. But a circuit break would require significant sacrifices across the country.

Starmer urged Johnson to implement the ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown in a bid to alleviate pressure on the NHS and to try and fix the Track and Trace testing system which has been described by SAGE as having a “marginal impact” on reducing the spread of the virus.

He said: “A circuit break would also provide an opportunity to reset and to rectify some of the mistakes the Government has made. In particular to get a grip on testing and hand over track and trace to local authorities. A circuit break will have to be accompanied by extensive support for jobs, businesses and our local economies.”

His conference comes on a day when a further 143 people were confirmed to have died from coronavirus, while more than 17,000 have tested positive.

Leading health experts from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies also recommended three weeks ago that Johnson implement the short-term national lockdown which Starmer is now calling for.

The new three-tier lockdown, which Johnson announced on Monday night, sees areas designated by an alert system currently ranging between medium, high and very high.

In tier 3 – or very high alert – areas such as the Liverpool metropolitan area pubs will be forced to close unless they also serve ‘substantial’ meals, while indoor gyms, casinos and leisure centres will also close.