A second national lockdown would likely have “disastrous” financial consequences for the UK, the Prime Minister has said.
Contacting a committee of MPs, Boris Johnson said the government was doing “everything in our power” to prevent another nationwide lockout.
It was for this reason that new restrictions – such as the “Rule of Six” – were necessary to “defeat” the disease, he said.
The PM also admitted that there was not enough testing capacity.
Earlier, he blamed a “colical spike” seeking ongoing problems due to delays in testing and results.
According to government figures, on Wednesday, cases of coronovirus in Britain increased by 3,991, bringing the total to 378,219.
Another 20 people were killed within 28 days of testing positive for Kovid-19. This brings the UK’s death to 41,684 by this criterion.
Amid a rise in cases of coronovirus, Mr Johnson was asked by the Commons Liaison Committee whether Britain could pursue another national lockout.
Mr Johnson said: “I do not want a second national lockout – I think it would be completely wrong for this country and we are going to do everything in our power to stop it.”
“And can we afford it? I highly doubt that the financial consequences will be anything but disastrous, but we must ensure that we beat the disease that we have determined it to be.”
“So when I see people arguing against the rule of six or saying that the government is getting into a lot of personal freedom and so on – I completely understand and I am sympathetic to it, but we have to defeat this disease needed.”
From Monday, new regulations came into force, prohibiting indoor and outdoor gatherings in England and Scotland, and indoor groups in Wales.
Second national lockdown is highly unlikely
A second national lockdown is highly unlikely for two reasons.
First, it is extremely harmful – to the economy, to education, and to comprehensive health for reasons other than Kovid.
You only need to pay attention to the latest figures for falling cancer referrals, hours spent out of school and rising unemployment to see the cost of the UK’s spring lockdown.
Secondly, the government and its medical advisors use the virus better.
They remain very low in the spring compared to current infection rates and hospitalizations and there are very rich statistics on where the virus is and how fast it is spreading, despite problems with testing.
Even if things go bad, the authorities are quite confident that the NHS will cope.
But this does not mean that there will be no further restriction.
A ban on the gathering of more than six people may be just the first step.
There is also talk of curfew, forcing hospitality sites to close at 22:00 BST.
This strategy was used to prevent an increase in cases in Belgium, and was deployed in Bolton to deal with the outbreak.
At this stage, it is unlikely that it will be used at the national level.
Instead, expect it to be an alternative to the virus’s hotspot, as well as ban other people’s accommodation visits that have been used in North West and West Yorkshire.
However, in an effort to protect the most vulnerable groups, shielding may be reintroduced across the country at some point, with restrictions on visits to care for homes.
Mr. Johnson also acknowledged that there was not enough coronavirus testing capability between the test and reports of people struggling to get results.
He told the committee: “We don’t have enough testing capability right now, because in an ideal world, I want to test absolutely everyone who wants to do a test right away.”
He promised that by the end of October there would be a capacity of 500,000 tests a day.
But he urged people with no symptoms to stay away from the testing centers – although he acknowledged the reasons they wanted to know if he had a Kovid-19.
“Everything that has happened has intensified over the past few weeks,” he said.
The prime minister was also asked about his objective of conducting a “pregnancy-style test” within months, which would have a role in fulfilling his “Operation Moonshot” ambition for a mass test.
The government has said it has set aside £ 500m to invest in its collective testing schemes.
Mr Johnson said: “I’ll be cautious and say that I can’t sit here today and say that we have such a ‘pregnancy-style exam’ … today.”
“It is right for the government to invest in such a project.”
Committee Chairman Sir Bernard Jenkin told Mr Johnson musicians, singers and artists “had fallen through the cracks of available aid schemes”.
Mr Johnson said the best way to help the sector was to “get these businesses back and re-burning theaters, having viruses down and having a test regime that allows us to do so”.
He also said that an investigation into the government’s response to the coronovirus epidemic would see “everything gone wrong and done right”.
But he said it would not be “a good use of official time at this time” and refused to indicate when the investigation would begin.
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Earlier, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said plans to top the NHS in the list of coronovirus trials would be published in the coming days.
Mr Buckland said that people in care homes would also be a priority, while schools could be considered.
The delay resolution with the test was “the number one issue”, he said.