UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted on Friday that Britain was “now seeing a second wave coming in” of the coronavirus epidemic.
“We're looking very carefully at the spread of the pandemic as it evolves over the last few days and there's no question, as I've said for several weeks now, that we could expect (and) are now seeing a second wave coming in. We are seeing it in France, in Spain, across Europe – it has been absolutely, I'm afraid, inevitable we were going to see it in this country, Johnson was cited as saying by the Daily Mail.
Suggesting that the UK might be lagging behind countries like Spain and France, who are witnessing a surge of coronavirus cases, by around six weeks, Johnson said Downing Street was contemplating six months of “on-off” restrictions as a means of tackling the developments.
Boris Johnson also expressed concerns that the public has been ignoring rules on social gatherings, such as the recently announced “rule of six”.
“On Monday, we brought in the measures that we did, the “rule of six”, to really try and restrict what people are doing and to bring in a new buffer. But the crucial thing is at the same time to observe the basic rules on social distancing – hands, face, space – that is what everybody has got to do if we want to continue to beat this thing,” said Johnson.
The Prime Minister insisted a second lockdown was the “last thing anybody wants”, but added that the current measures would need to be kept “under review”.
“I don't want to go into bigger lockdown measures at all, we want to keep schools open. We want to keep the economy open as far as we possibly can, we want to keep businesses going. The only way we can do that is obviously if people follow the guidance,” said the Prime Minister.
The government has been looking into diverse winter scenarios and possible ways to alternate periods of stricter measures with intervals of relaxation.
A possible three-tiered set of restrictions is being considered by Downing Street to avoid a lockdown, according to the BBC.
The first tier would presuppose the measures that are currently in place in most parts of England, chiefly focusing on social distancing - such as the newly implemented "rule of six".
The second tier would mirror the developments announced in the north-east of England, ahead of similar rules unveiled across the North West, Midlands and West Yorkshire, where curfews have been announced on hospitality venues and a ban on meetings between households.
The final third tier would involve stricter lockdown measures if the above-mentioned ones failed to make an impact.
Should the government go ahead with the plan, the "tier two" restrictions are expected to be implemented region-by-region.
An “on-off” approach to draconian lockdown restrictions is being considered as a possibility for the entire country to suppress the virus.
In line with the plan, fortnight-long 'circuit breakers' would see restrictions introduced, lifted, and possibly, again re-introduced if necessary. The restrictions might include bans on social contact between households, with hospitality and leisure venues such as bars and restaurants shut down, or having their opening hours limited.
Currently, areas of England are being forced back into lockdown. The more recent measures, which include a 10pm curfew on pubs and bars, are set to apply to Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland, Northumberland, South Tyneside, North Tyneside and County Durham.
The Government is also said to be mulling introducing “targeted shielding” to enable people with serious medical conditions to receive tailored advice.
individuals would be given more specific recommendations according to their perceived level of vulnerability.
There has been a sharp rise in UK coronavirus cases over the last two weeks, with Public Health England's medical director Yvonne Doyle issuing a warning of "far worse things to come".
Registered cases of the virus are doubling every seven to eight days in the UK, with 4,322 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Friday.