What restrictions could there be under the October ‘firebreak lockdown’ in England and what has the Government said about it?

By Talya Honebeek

A senior Government scientist and Sage member has reportedly told the i newspaper that the October half-term break in England could be extended to two weeks if Covid hospital admissions stay high.

According to the report, the Government has drawn up contingency plans for a half-term lockdown in late October in a bid to deal with an “extended peak” of both infections and hospitalisations.

The news comes as millions of pupils returning to school threaten a surge in infections which could put the NHS under increasing pressure in the run-up to winter.

A full lockdown is unlikely, however, there are a number of measures that could be reintroduced as part of a short, sharp firebreak, including travel restrictions for those in England.

But what coronavirus restrictions could be introduced in England and what has the Government said about the chances of an October firebreak lockdown ? Here’s everything you need to know.

What restrictions could be introduced as part of an October firebreak?

No plans have been confirmed as of yet, however, restrictions that Prime Minister Boris Johnson could introduce for England to regain control of coronavirus include:

  • Social distancing on transport and in public spaces

  • Mask-wearing

  • Travel restrictions

In Wales, mask-wearing remains a legal requirement in certain indoor public spaces.

What has the Government said about a winter lockdown?

Speaking to Sky News’ Kay Burley this morning, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi neither confirmed nor denied plans of October firebreak restrictions if Covid-19 hospitalisations continue to put the NHS at risk of being overwhelmed.

Mr Zahawi said his “absolute priority” remains the booster jab programme, which he says will “absolutely help us to transition the virus from pandemic to endemic status.

“The important thing is that we get that right because I think if we do that well, we can continue on this sort of one-way road towards sustaining the opening of the economy and, by next year hopefully, transitioning the virus from pandemic to endemic and dealing with it on an annual basis.”

The Government has since denied the reports of a firebreak lockdown, with a spokesperson telling the Mirror : “It is not true that the Government is planning a lockdown or firebreak around the October half-term.

“As set out in July, the Government retains contingency plans as part of responsible planning for a range of scenarios, but such measures would only be reintroduced as a last resort to prevent unsustainable pressure on the NHS.”

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