/Coronavirus UK: Tougher measures could be introduced for some areas

Coronavirus UK: Tougher measures could be introduced for some areas

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said certain areas of the UK could see harsher restrictions than others to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Cabinet Minister Robert Jenrick said areas will be analysed on a case-by-case basis (Picture: PA/Sky)

Certain areas of the UK could see stricter lockdown measures than others in a bid to control the spread of coronavirus.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said restrictions could be relaxed or tightened locally depending on the rate of infection in a particular area. His comments come as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to lay out his ‘road map’ for gradually easing lockdown restrictions on Sunday evening.

Mr Jenrick said the UK’s threat level is still some way of where it needs to be and that specific areas could be analysed on a case-by-case basis when deciding whether to ease restrictions.

He told Sky’s Sophie Ridge on Sunday: ‘The evidence behind it will also be able to inform what we do at a local level and if we see there are outbreaks in particular localities, neighbourhoods, schools, towns, then we may be able to take particular measures in those places as we build up a more sophisticated and longer-term response to controlling the virus.’

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Mr Jenrick said the country’s threat level is currently at four on a scale of one to five, as the Government unveils its new alert system which will detect local increases in infection rates.

He said ‘our aspiration is to bring it down as swiftly as possible to three’ out of the red zone and into green, in the hopes of further opening up the economy and easing social restrictions.

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He told Ridge: ‘Many people will be familiar with the threat level we’ve had in this country for some time which measures the ongoing threat of terrorist and other risks to our safety and this is a similar threat level.

‘At the moment we believe the country is at four on a scale of five with five being the most concerning and our aspiration is to bring that down as swiftly as we can to three.

‘And at each stage, at each of those milestones, we will be in a position to open up and restart more aspects of the economy and of our lives.’

Customers adhere to social distancing as they queue to enter a recently re-opened Pret-A-Manger shop which had originally closed-down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in London.
The PM is set to lay out plans for easing restrictions (Picture: AFP)

People social distancing as they walk along the beach at Gorleston-on-Sea in Norfolk as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
If certain areas have lower infection rates than others they could see restrictions relaxed (Picture: PA)

Mr Jenrick said the nation’s R value – on average how many people an infected person will spread the virus to – was between 0.6 and 0.9 in the last evidence he saw – but would not give a specific figure for the rate in care homes.

All nations are aiming for a confirmed R rate below one before easing restrictions. However, the UK’s figure has been unclear as scientists are unable to compare the rate in care homes with hospitals until further data is available.

‘I don’t have the exact figure for the R number within care homes but we do believe we’re passing through the peak of the infections within care homes,’ he told Ridge.

He denied care homes had been sacrificed in order to protect the NHS.

‘No,’ he said. ‘And we’re putting in place the measures that we need to address some of the concerns that you’ve just outlined.’

Carer Lucy Skidmore, who remains on site with six colleagues, talks to her 100-year-old great-grandmother and resident Joan Loosley at Fremantle Trust care home, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Princes Risborough, Britain.
Mr Jenrick denied that care homes had been ignored to save the NHS (Picture: Reuters)

Members of the Public sitting in groups in Regent's Park on May 09, 2020 in London, United Kingdom.
Over the weekend police said they were overwhelmed with the number of people flouting lockdown rules (Picture: Getty)

He said there would be better discharge policies so people do not return to care homes while infected and less movement of staff between facilities, along with a ‘bigger package of support’.

There has been great speculation over how far Mr Johnson could ease restrictions in his address to the nation this evening, following warnings from top scientific advisers and fellow politicians that lifting lockdown too quickly could be dangerous.

Ahead of the address to the nation tonight, the PM has dropped the ‘stay at home’ message in favour of ‘stay alert’.

The move has been met with great criticism, with many saying the advice is unclear, particularly when dealing with the ‘invisible threat’ of Covid-19.

Mr Jenrick said he ‘hopes’ the message isn’t too woolly, saying a ‘broader’ slogan is needed as the Government restarts the economy.

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Two families maintain social distancing while talking to each other outside a home in Hampstead, north London, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The Government has insisted that advice is still to remain at home (Picture: PA)

‘I think that’s what the public want and that they will be able to understand this message, which is that we should be staying home as much as possible but when we do go to work and go about our business we need to remain vigilant, we need to stay alert,’ he continued.

‘And that means things like respecting others, remaining two meters apart, washing your hands, following the social distancing guidelines because the virus continues to be prevalent, too many people are still dying of this and we’re going to have to live with it for a long time.’

He said the Government understands the public are anxious about the future, particularly now their message encourages people to return to work but insisted the easing of restrictions will be light.

Mr Jenrick added: ‘Staying home will still be an important part of the message but you will be able to go to work and you will in time be able to do some other activities that you’re not able to do today.’

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