ENGLAND’S four-week national lockdown should be extended towards Christmas if the R rate is still above one, Sir Keir Starmer warned today.
The Labour boss said it wouldn’t be “sensible” to lift the rules if the infection levels were still going up on December 2.
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Ministers have yet to say the criteria for lifting the lockdown, but have stressed they do want to bring the R rate and the number of infections down during the nationwide shut down.
Boris Johnson has insisted he does want to lift the rules as planned, and they will automatically expire unless MPs vote to extend them.
In a fiery clash ahead of the lockdown vote this afternoon, the Labour boss blasted: “Is he saying that if by December 2 the R rate, the infection rate, has not come below 1, and therefore on December 2 the infection rate is still rising, still rising on December 2, is he saying that come what may we will come out of lockdown with infection rates going up on December 2?
“That doesn’t seem sensible to me.”
And the PM replied: “It is thanks to the efforts of the British people that the R is now currently only just above 1, as it is.
“And we are doing the right and the prudent thing at the right time to get that infection rate down and these measures, as I have said repeatedly to the House, will expire on December 2.”
It came as:
Opening the debate today he said “our aim is to prevent the R remaining above one – because otherwise we face a bleak and uncertain future of rising infections.”
He added that he did not know what the epidemiology would look like in four weeks time, but stressed the lockdown would be “time limited”.
Staring down the camera in a message to business chiefs, the PM said: “Believe me, we will end these autumn measures on December 2nd when they expire.”
The PM said the situation was “grave” but he accepted it was “absolutely right for MPs to have doubts” about the measures.
But he stressed: “I’m not prepared to take the risk with the lives of the British people.”
Rishi Sunak has said ministers will look at a range of data including the death numbers, hospitalisation figures, and the spreading of the virus, before working out what to do next.
TIERS TO RETURN
It’s expected that the week before the lockdown is due to end the Government will decide which Tiers to place which parts of the country back into.
Tier 1 has the national rule of six and 10pm curfew, but Tier 2 sees people from different households banned from mixing up inside.
Tier 3, the strictest level, forces people not to see anyone from outside their household (inside or outside) and pubs and bars are ordered to shut.
Parts of the country had even tougher rules, shutting down close contact services and more hospitality – such as Nottinghamshire.
Boris has stressed he does want to allow people to see their family at Christmas, but has not promised that they will be able to do so.