George Eustice says new variants could lead to another lockdown
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George Eustice warned the UK could head towards another lockdown if variants escape vaccinations despite the Government laying out a “Plan A” and “Plan B” scenario which does not involve the measure. The hypothetical “Plan C” option not addressed by government could include introducing another lockdown despite Boris Johnson repeatedly warning it was a measure he did not want to take. But Mr Eustice raised the chances of such a decision being made when he told Sky News it was an option being considered.
Mr Eustice told Sky News: “Arguably the biggest threat to the travel industry is that we do get another variant that manages to get around the vaccine, that the vaccine can’t deal with, then we’re into another full lockdown – and that’s not what we want.
“That’s why we’ve taken this cautiously, step by step, because we want each step we take to be irreversible.”
It comes as there are fears another lockdown over winter could occur after temporary powers in the Coronavirus Act 2020 were extended by six months.
Powers to regulate public gatherings, tell people to self-isolate and closing premises will continue until early next year.
A government spokesman said: “We will allow temporary powers in the Coronavirus Act to expire wherever possible, as we have at previous review points.
“However, it would be irresponsible to allow all temporary provisions to expire.
“Doing so would remove the government’s ability to protect renters from eviction, give sick pay to those self-isolating from day one, and direct schools to reopen where needed, for example.
“The British public would expect us to retain these powers in case they are needed through the winter.”
The Prime Minister has announced two plans for England to follow over the winter in a bid to avoid another lockdown.
Over-50s will be given booster shots, test and trace will continue, additional funds for the NHS will be provided, advice for meetings will be provided and encouraged by the Government and a review of international travel will continue to roll on.
The UK is also set to announce the latest review on travel which is revised every three weeks.
A large flu vaccine programme will also be launched with school children, pregnant women and vulnerable groups all elligible.
Plan B will reserve some measures such as vaccine passports and wearing masks in some venues.
Working from home will also be encouraged if needed.
Another Plan B measure will be “communicating clearly and urgently to the public that the level of risk has increased, and with it the need to behave more cautiously.”
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