Latest updates: health secretary says new variant is ‘even more of a problem’ as he says government will not ‘rule anything out’ in considering another lockdown
Yesterday Boris Johnson hinted that he would have to tighten coronavirus restrictions in England shortly, but he implied that this was not yet a certainty. In an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr he said:
It may be that we need to do things in the next few weeks that will be tougher in … many parts of the country … I’m fully, fully reconciled to that. And I bet the people of this country are reconciled to that.
We’ve already got a lot of the country in tier 4, some of it in tier 3. What we’ve been waiting for is to see the impact of the tier 4 measures on the virus. It’s a bit unclear still at the moment.
But I think, if you look at the numbers, there’s no question that we’re going to have to take tougher measures, and we’ll be announcing those in due course.
The leader of Birmingham City Council has demanded a new national lockdown and the closure of all primary and special schools. Speaking on BBC WM, Ian Ward said the authority would back any headteacher who decided not to open to pupils on safety grounds. He said:
At the moment I don’t know how many primary schools won’t be reopening but we will be collating that data as we go through the morning.
We are advising all primary schools and special schools to carry out a risk assessment and to determine whether it’s safe to reopen for the spring term.
We know from London that once the new variant is in schools it will spread and then pupils will then take their virus back to the family home.
So we are in a really really serious situation and the government needs to recognise that and they need to accept that in all tier 4 areas primary schools and special schools will have to close.