Government minister says he 'hasn't seen any plans' for October lockdown

Shoppers around Norwich Market shopping local and staying safe in masks.
Picture by: Sonya Duncan

Masks may be introduced to prevent the need for a fourth lockdown - Credit: Sonya Duncan

The rumours of a potential October "firebreak" lockdown have been denied by a government minister.

Nadhim Zahawi, the Covid Vaccine Deployment Minister, said he "hasn't seen any plans" for another lockdown, despite reports that it could be introduced if coronavirus cases continue to rise in the autumn.

When asked on BBC Breakfast whether the government is considering another lockdown in October, the minister said: "No, I haven't seen any.

"Look, vaccines have given us the ability to reduce infections, to save 100,000 lives.

"It is through the booster programme that I hope ... we can transition the virus from pandemic to endemic status and deal with it year in, year out - it is going to be with us for many years - but not have to close down our economy or take the severe measures we had to sadly take in December of last year."

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Mr Zahawi referenced rumours that the lockdown is being considered due to hospitals reaching capacity, having been above 900 admissions a day for the past two weeks.

A member of Sage told the i newspaper that the UK is about to enter “an extended peak” of infections, which could push the NHS to breaking point and force new restrictions.

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The October lockdown in 2020 came after 16,479 infections and 1,461 hospitalisations. Currently, infections are at 42,192, with 988 hospitalisations on August 31.

A government source believes that the "firebreak" lockdown will be seriously considered, and "is by no means out of the question.”

The "firebreak" is rumoured to be a contingency plan for the government, should other measures not take effect, such as vaccine passports and mask-wearing.

Both are believed to be being reintroduced as early as this month to prevent a fourth lockdown.

Other restrictions which could be considered are a return to social distancing, a limit on gatherings, and the closing of non-essential shops.

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