U.K. May Impose New Lockdown in England Next Week

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is mulling imposing fresh national lockdown measures across England starting next week, with the coronavirus outbreak spreading faster than even the government’s worst-case scenario.

Johnson is expected to announce the new steps at a press conference on Monday, The Times newspaper reported. If implemented, the additional measures may take effect as soon as Wednesday and remain in place until Dec. 1. Only essential shops and “educational settings” such as nurseries, schools and universities would remain open, the report said.

The U.K. has the highest death toll in Europe, with more than 46,000 fatalities, adding pressure for Johnson to take tougher measures. France, Germany, Spain and Italy have all imposed partial lockdowns this month with cases rising at record rates across Europe where more than 215,000 people have died from the disease and nearly 7 million have been infected.

The U.K.’s government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, the panel which has guided the premier’s decisions since the coronavirus outbreak began, had called in September for a two- to three-week “circuit-breaker” lockdown coinciding with school holidays to rein in transmission. September and October saw a worsening picture as hospital admissions first followed and then exceeded even the most pessimistic projections made by SAGE, papers released on Friday showed.

Discussions on a new national lockdown are still ongoing and no final decision had been made, The Times said, citing a senior government source it did not identify. Tougher regional measures known as Tier 4 are also being considered. Johnson earlier met with Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove and Health Secretary Matthew Hancock to discuss the latest NHS data, the report said.

The U.K. is on course for a higher death toll than during the first wave of the pandemic unless further restrictions to reduce transmission are introduced, with one of the models suggesting deaths could reach more than 4,000 a day, the BBC reported, citing documents it saw. That’s about four times the level at the first peak of the virus in the U.K.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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