ENGLAND'S four-week lockdown could be extended next month if the R rate stays high, Michael Gove warned today.
The cabinet member's threat will raise fears of a ruined Christmas for millions of British families.
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He appeared on the Sophy Ridge on Sunday show this morning, confirming the strict measures could carry on beyond December 2.
It would come as a blow for Brits making festive plans and banking on the restrictions being removed in a month.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said: "We are going to review it on December 2 but we are driven by the data.
"On the basis of what we have been told it should drive the R rate below 1.
"It’s our hope that we have significantly reduced the reinfection (R) rate."
It comes as:
- Boris Johnson told the nation to "stay at home"
- The rules on what you can and can't do in Lockdown 2.0 are outlined
- The PM was warned ice rinks could be used as mortuaries
- Furlough is set to be extended with workers on 80% pay
Former chief scientific adviser Sir Mark Walport described the latest lockdown in England as "definitely" better late than never.
When asked if the new lockdown could be longer than the one in the spring, Sir Mark said: "It's obviously a possibility, yes and the only way to know is going to be to really count cases as accurately as possible."
On whether people should expect to be able to gather at Christmas, he said: "I think the virus is sublimely indifferent as to what day of the week it is and indeed whether it's Christmas or any other festivals, so it does seem a bit unlikely that it's going to be a completely normal Christmas, that's for sure."
Last night Boris Johnson ordered England into a second lockdown, after being told thousands of deaths could be occurring a day from the virus by Christmas if left unchecked.
The PM was presented with horrifying plans in the event of hospitals becoming overwhelmed – including storing dead bodies in skating centres, amid warnings of 4,000 deaths a day.
Sir Simon Stevens, head of the NHS, pulled together the plans amid fears thousands would died each die at the peak of the second wave – expected to come by Christmas if nothing is done.
It was said to be this which convinced the PM to make the U-turn and order a national lockdown.
One official present at the Covid Quad committee meeting told the Mail on Sunday: “I could have wept – it was so awful.
“The PM was given hard facts about real people in hospital beds, and the debate was effectively over. He was told how many hospitalisations were already baked-in to the projections due to the steep rise in infections.”
The PM announced last night:
- People will have to stay at home for four weeks from Thursday – if MPs vote in favour
- They will only be able to leave home for school, work, medical reasons, exercise, shopping or providing care to the vulnerable
- People can only meet one other person outside their household outdoors
- The furlough scheme will be extended with 80 per cent of pay
- Pubs and restaurants will shut but will be allowed to do takeaways and deliveries
- Nurseries and schools are to remain open – but unions are already demanding they be shut
- International travel will be banned – except for work
- No overnight stays and internal UK-wide travel is set to be discouraged
- All non-essential retail will close, but supermarkets will be able to sell any and all goods they like
- There will be a nationwide ban on people mixing indoors – except for childcare
- People will be allowed to exercise as much as they like
- Manufacturing and construction will be encouraged to keep going – and Parliament and courts will stay open
- Shielding will not return but people who are vulnerable should take extra care
At yesterday's Downing Street press conference, Boris Johnson confirmed a four-week lockdown in England from Thursday to curb the spread of Covid-19, with the shutdown to last until December 2.
The Prime Minister warned without action to tackle the virus "we could see deaths running at several thousand a day".
Hospitals would run out of capacity within weeks and doctors forced to choose between "who would live and who would die", the PM said.
And this morning Mr Gove added: "The situation has been worse than any of expected and that's why action is required.
"If we weren't to take any further action, we would see hospital action diminish, we would see hospitals filling up. If we didn't act, by the first week in December the NHS would be full.
"The projections that we've seen… all say that without acting we would see the number of people exceed that that we saw in the first wave during this month, around the 20th or so of November."
The PM said it was now clear that hospitals in the South West will run out of capacity in just a few weeks "unless we act" and the nation would face a "medical and moral disaster".
Doctors would be forced to choose whose lives to save, and deprive millions of people across the nation the care they need.
However, he will face a huge Tory rebellion from his backbenchers – who are determined to fight another national shutdown.
It came as Britain officially passed one million cases of the virus.
21,915 more people tested positive and 326 people died of the virus.
The lockdown is set to last until December 2 in an attempt to save the nation's Christmas.
But it will apply to England only – Scotland and Wales have said they will assess the situation and apply their own rules.
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