Monday, February 26

Sunak warns ban could cost jobs



Rishi Sunak has warned a ‘blunt’ circuit-breaker national lockdown could cause ‘permanent damage,’ to UK jobs and firms.

There are growing calls, particularly from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, for a two-week circuit breaker to be implemented as a means of slowing the Covid-19 infection rate.

Manchester and Lancashire could well join Liverpool under Tier 3 restrictions on activity as part of the Government’s latest Covid-19 strategy.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Mr Sunak has defended regional lockdowns, saying they prevent nationwide measures that would be a ‘hit to businesses and jobs.

But A YouGov poll estimates around 68 per cent of the population would support a two week, nationwide, circuit breaker lockdown.

Mr Sunak, alongside Cabinet minsters including Business Secretary Alok Sharma, Home Secretary Priti Patel, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden and Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, are all calling for a lighter touch.

One minister told The Telegraph: A national circuit breaker is a very crude tool… what [it] does is potentially displace the problem rather than remove it.

A Government source added: ‘It’s no use just delaying things; if you are buying time what are you going to use that time for? You have to make it worth the hit to people’s lives. If the infection rate doesn’t come down after two weeks you will come under pressure to extend it, which could drag on and on.

The paper reported that talks of bumping London’s restriction measures up to Tier Two, are rapidly advancing, with The Independent suggesting measures could begin in the Capital as soon as Friday.

Meanwhile The Telegraph has reported that Sage advisers feel it is too late for a circuit-breaker lockdown this month, and it could instead take place over Christmas, to limit the impact on children’s education.