Boris Johnson has bowed to pressure from his scientific advisers for new national lockdown restrictions, which are expected to be announced early next week, hlcarpenter.com has been told.
Sir Patrick Vallance and Prof Chris Whitty, who head the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), are understood to have warned the prime minister that the time has come for national action across England. Sage scientists presented Johnson with evidence at a meeting in Downing Street, where they explained that Covid-19 is spreading significantly faster than their worst-case scenarios.
The scientists, who are supported by the health secretary, Matt Hancock, and Michael Gove, are understood to have argued that local measures are no longer enough and that the virus could kill 85,000 people this winter. Sage’s proposals for a two-week “circuit breaker” over half-term were turned down by ministers. It is now thought something longer will be needed.
However, the exact extent of the new lockdown restrictions have yet to be decided. That will be thrashed out this weekend as Johnson and the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, try to work out what can be imposed across England without major damage to the economy.