Downing Street Refuses To Rule Out Curfew As Covid Surges

Boris Johnson says case to keep schools open is "powerful" but there is "no question" tougher measures are needed.

Downing Street has refused to rule out imposing a night-time curfew as Covid cases continue to surge in the UK this winter.

On Sunday, lab-confirmed cases of the virus climbed above 50,000 for the sixth day in a row and fears are growing the NHS could soon be overwhelmed.

When asked whether a curfew could be brought in, like the one seen in parts of France, the prime minister’s official spokesperson said: “We have always said we will keep all measures under review and base our decisions on the latest scientific and medical evidence.”

Asked again to rule out a curfew, he added the government “will do whatever is needed to tackle the virus and will do that looking at the scientific evidence and data”.

It comes as Johnson said there is a “powerful” case for schools to remain open.

Speaking during a visit to Chase Farm Hospital in north London to meet some of the first people to receive the Oxford vaccine on Monday, the prime minister said there were “tough tough” weeks to come.

He said: “If you look at the numbers there’s no question we will have to take tougher measures and we will be announcing those in due course.”

People walk past a Thank You Stay Safe Sign in Oxford Circus. Under tier four restrictions, pubs and restaurants are closed
People walk past a Thank You Stay Safe Sign in Oxford Circus. Under tier four restrictions, pubs and restaurants are closed

Turning to schools, Johnson added: “The risk to teachers, and of course we will do everything we can to protect teachers, but the risk to teachers is no greater than it is to anyone else.

“The reasons for wanting to keep schools open I think are very, very powerful.”

Downing Street has said, however, that ministers were waiting to see the impact of the latest coronavirus restrictions in England before deciding on any further measures.

The PM’s official spokesperson said: “We have been waiting to see the impact of the tier 4 measures. It is a bit unclear still at the moment.”

Matt Hancock on Monday indicated that parts of England under tier 3 restrictions will be upgraded to tier 4.

The health secretary also refused to rule out another national lockdown amid concerns the new variant coronavirus is spreading out of control and the “old tier system is no longer strong enough”.

“This new variant is much easier to catch, it is much more transmissible, and we’re now seeing the effect of that in lots of different parts of the country, unfortunately,” he said.

“And it means that, whereas the old tier 3 was able to contain the old variant, that is proving increasingly difficult in all parts of the country.”

Jeremy Hunt, the former Tory health secretary, also piled pressure on Johnson to act.

He called on Monday for the closure of schools and borders and a ban on household mixing “right away” as he warned that the pressures facing hospitals are “off-the-scale worse” than previous winter crises.


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