After a decline since the first peak in April, confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK have registered an uptick since July, with the rate of growth increasing sharply from the end of August, forcing approximately a quarter of the country to live under a patchwork of localised restrictions.
Leaked documents suggest that a potentially harsher degree of coronavirus restrictions are planning to be introduced across the country, writes The Guardian.
The document is believed to say that as some people do not have a clear understanding of which rules apply to them, a “simpler structure” to the guidelines that they should follow would be welcomed.
The government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) is reportedly behind the proposal to introduce a package of measures, rather than individual changes, suggested as more effective in dealing with the spread of the respiratory disease.
‘Traffic-Light-Style’ Lockdown Plan
Dubbed the “COVID-19 Proposed Social Distancing Framework”, the leaked document, marked “official – sensitive”, is reportedly dated 30 September and has not yet been signed by Downing Street.
The outlet suggests this means the measures laid out in the plan might still be watered down.
The potentially tighter restrictions are reported to include the closure of pubs, which are currently working under a 10 p.m. curfew, and a ban on all social contact beyond one’s immediate household. The restrictions might be toughened even further by the government locally or nationally unless the current spike in coronavirus cases is brought under control.
Alert Level 1
Alert level 1 contains the restrictions that are currently in place across England, including the “rule of six” that applies to indoor and outdoor gatherings. It requires the wearing of face-coverings, with a 10 p.m. curfew on pubs, and other hospitality businesses.
At weddings and funerals, the numbers are restricted to 15 and 30, respectively.
Alert Level 2
Under alert level 2, people are not allowed to meet with those outside their household in private dwellings or gardens, pubs, restaurants, or other settings.
This level would reportedly be “triggered in geographical areas or nationally when there has been a rise in transmission, which cannot be contained through local responses”.
In line with the measures proposed at this level, visits to care homes will only be allowed in exceptional circumstances.
While holidays will be allowed within households, all travel would be restricted to essential purposes.
Organised team sports would still be allowed. Weddings and funerals would be limited to 15 attendees.
Alert Level 3
Alert level 3 would be “triggered in geographical areas or nationally when alert level 2 measures have not contained the spread of the virus, or where there has been a significant rise in transmission”.
The highest proposed level is said to contain tougher measures than any previously implemented as part of local lockdowns since the start of the pandemic.
The leaked document is believed to suggest the following tough restrictions:
- Closure of hospitality and leisure businesses.
- No social contact outside your household in any setting.
- Restrictions on overnight stays away from home.
- No organised non-professional sports permitted or other communal hobby groups and activities, such as social clubs in community centres.
- Places of worship can remain open.
The draft reportedly does not make any mention of schools, with a government source cited as referencing Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s instance that classroom closures would be a last resort.
Specific local circumstances would reportedly be taken into account, a Whitehall source was quoted as saying, adding that the proposed “levels” were intended to be “minimum standards”.
A Downing Street source revealed that the measures outlined in the draft, particularly pertaining to the highest level of restrictions, had not been finalised, writes the outlet.
The document would reportedly still require approval by ministers in the COVID-operations committee and by Boris Johnson.
There has not yet been an official comment on the report.
As on Sunday, the number of COVID-19 cases in the UK had jumped by 22,961, a Department of Health spokesman said:
“We are seeing coronavirus cases rise at a rapid rate across the country… As we have shown, we are prepared to take action decisively when it is necessary, and it is of course right to look how we make sure everyone understands and complies with the restrictions that will keep us all safe”.
An attempt to enforce tougher coronavirus lockdown measures is anticipated as likely to provoke indignation among Conservative backbenchers. Earlier, Johnson was able to avert a revolt among a group of over 80 Tory rebels in the House of Commons, striking a last-ditch deal by pledging votes for MPs on any new national COVID-19 restrictions.