National lockdown rules feared as Matt Hancock warns we’re at ‘tipping point’

National lockdown rules feared as Matt Hancock warns we’re at ‘tipping point’

New national lockdown rules could be on the way within days after Matt Hancock warned Britain is at a “tipping point”.

The Health Secretary repeatedly refused to rule out fresh England-wide measures, such as a 10pm pub curfew, ban on socialising with different households or even a full national lockdown, if coronavirus continues to soar.

Urgent talks are also taking place this afternoon about possible restrictions in London.

It comes as well over 10million people are already under local restrictions across swathes of northern England, the Midlands, Scotland and South Wales, amid a surge in coronavirus rates.

From September 28 people who fail to self-isolate will face £10,000 fines – and there’ll be £500 payments for low-wage workers who do quarantined successfully.

And Boris Johnson is reportedly due to make a TV address to the nation this week, as soon as Tuesday, on other possible new measures.

Well over 10million people are already under local restrictions

Mr Hancock was forced to deny the government had “lost control” in a gruelling round of TV interviews as Labour leader Keir Starmer demanded an announcement by the end of tomorrow.

Mr Hancock admitted scientists had proposed a “circuit breaker” short, sharp lockdown to arrest the current rise in positive tests – which hit 4,422 yesterday. “We’re looking at all different options,” he told the BBC.

He added meetings are taking place within hours over new restrictions in London – whose mayor has demanded curbs as soon as Monday.

He told Sky News: “I’ve had discussions this week with the Mayor of London and the teams are meeting today to discuss further what might be needed.

“In terms of national action, of course we don’t rule that out but everybody wants to avoid it.”

It’s understood City Hall and government officials were due to meet on Sunday afternoon to look at the data.

Matt Hancock was forced to deny the government had “lost control”

Critics have blamed the chaos which has seen people with the three coronavirus symptoms – a cough, fever or loss of taste or smell – unable to get a test.

They also blame conflicting guidance from the government – which has banned gatherings of more than six people in England, but with exemptions including for grouse shoots.

Labour leader Keir Starmer today warned a national lockdown was now “more likely because of the near-collapse of testing” and accused ministers of “losing control of the virus”.

Sir Keir urged the government to “look at a national lockdown” if needed, adding: “Take swift action. Do it in the next few days.

“I want the Prime Minister to set out today or tomorrow what action he proposes to take.”

While Sir Keir said “whatever measure the government takes we will support it” – despite not knowing what those measures will be – he also demanded Boris Johnson “apologise” for the testing fiasco.

Keir Starmer today warned a national lockdown was now “more likely because of the near collapse of testing”

But Mr Hancock blamed individual Brits not following the rules for the rise in cases.

“The nation faces a tipping point and we have a choice,” he warned Sky News.

“We have a choice. Either everybody follows the rules – the rule of six and the need to self-isolate if you have a positive test or if you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace – or we will have to take more measures.”

Mr Hancock warned  there was a danger the infection rate could “shoot through the roof” if people did not follow the the Government’s rules.

Asked if there could be another national lockdown if people don’t follow the rules, Mr Hancock said: “That’s exactly right. I don’t rule it out. I don’t want to see it.”

Mr Hancock said “people have got more relaxed over the summer” and “we’re all human” but “now is the moment where everybody needs to get back to the rule of six, hands face space, so important.”

He added: “It comes down to individual choices of the 60million people who live in this country as to whether we can keep it there with a local lockdown approach or whether we have to take further national action.”

Mr Hancock said the number of hospital admissions for coronavirus was rising and would be followed by an increase in the number of deaths.

“We have seen in other countries when the case rate shoots up, the next thing that happens is the numbers going into hospital shoot up,” he told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show.

“Sadly, we have seen that rise, it is doubling every eight days or so – people going into hospital – then, with a lag, you see the number of people dying sadly rise.”

The minister also said he would call police on a neighbour breaching self-isolation.

He told the BBC: “For the self-isolation part, that is absolutely necessary because that is how we break the chains of transmission.”

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