Boris Johnson considering imposing new shielding measures for the elderly
The Prime Minister is considering asking the elderly to shield once again and is mulling lockdown-like conditions for London should there be a second wave of coronavirus infections, The Sunday Telegraph and The Sunday Times said.
The claims come after Mr Johnson was forced to announce a slow down of the lockdown easing on Friday, with planned relaxations for the leisure and beauty sectors delayed after a rise in Covid-19 cases was recorded, with prevalence in the community thought to be rising for the first time since May.
The Times reported the Conservative Party leader held a “war game” session with Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Wednesday to run through possible options for averting another nationwide lockdown that could stall any potential economic recovery.
Under the proposals, a greater number of people would be asked to take part in the shielding programme, based on their age or particular risk factors that have been identified since March, said the Telegraph.
It could even see those aged between 50 and 70 given “personalised risk ratings”, said the Times, in a move that would add to the 2.2 million who were deemed most vulnerable and asked to shield themselves from society during the spring peak.
The advice was only lifted on Saturday for those in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and remains in place until August 16 for those shielding in Wales.
Other ideas mooted should the R-rate escalate in the capital include restricting travel beyond the M25 and putting a stop to staying at other people’s houses – similar to policies implemented in local lockdowns imposed in Leicester and parts of the north-west of England in recent days.
But Downing Street sources distanced themselves from the detail in the reports, calling them “speculative”.
On top of the alleged lockdown avoidance preparations, experts have speculated that ministers might have to order the closure of pubs, which were permitted to start serving again on July 4, if schools are to reopen fully in September.
Professor Graham Medley, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said earlier a “trade off” could be required if the Prime Minister’s pledge is to be met.
His comments followed chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty’s remarks that the country was “near the limit” for opening up society following the coronavirus lockdown.