Sky News: Sajid Javid hasn't 'thought about' an October lockdown
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An anonymous member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) recently leaked “contingency” plans drawn up in the event the UK’s Covid rates become unmanageable for the NHS. The Government source told the i newspaper the UK is approaching “an extended peak” of infections.
According to the insider, this could take place over the October half term.
They said: “If the current high levels of admissions for Covid continue the NHS will not be able to cope, so a firebreak lockdown is by no means out of the question.”
Following this revelation, on Tuesday, “#OctoberLockdown” began to trend on Twitter with some hopeful holidaymakers questioning the fate of their future travel plans.
One user wrote: “Just read a news article saying UK hospital admissions are not sustainable and we will have another lockdown in October?
“My holiday is booked for end of this month…should I cancel it?”
A second added: “If we have an October lockdown it is not fair to people who have book their only two weeks holiday for then like my friend who has worked all year and booked them two weeks off because it would be quieter and not busy like summer months.”
Since then, Government ministers have spoken out about the comments, with many denying all knowledge of plans for a “firebreak” lockdown at the end of October.
What do we know about an “October lockdown” so far?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he will not rule out reimposing some restrictions, such as mask-wearing or social distancing.
However, his official spokesperson has said reports are “not true”.
The explained: “No, it is not true that the government is planning a lockdown or firebreak around the October half-term.”
Other ministers have denied reports of any plans for an October lockdown.
Speaking on Sky News this morning, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Said Javid said he had “not thought about” another lockdown in October.
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However, he admitted the path of Covid can not be predicted.
He said: “It is true that no one knows the future pathway of this virus. I haven’t even thought about [an October lockdown] as an option at this point as the decisions we’ve made in the last few weeks and certainly the time I’ve been health secretary I think they have turned out to be the right decisions.”
Mr Javid said the vaccine roll-out is the “best defence” against another wave of Covid and ultimately lockdown.
He added: “The vaccines are working. Yes, there are still infections, that is true around the world, but the number of people going into hospital and dying is merciful low and that is because of the vaccines.”
The Department of Education has also denied plans for another lockdown.
Posting to Twitter on Tuesday, a spokesperson said: “It is not true that the Government is planning a lockdown or firebreak around the October half term.”
Will international travel be impacted?
Though there is no certainty as to how Covid cases and NHS capacity will change in the approaching months, Government ministers and spokespeople at this point are denying plans.
As such, it is unlikely that international travel rules will be impacted by a lockdown at the time of writing.
However, the health secretary told Sky News: “No one knows exactly what is going to happen.”
There is some speculation that the traffic light travel rules will see some change as of October 1, though this is not due to lockdown speculations.
When the Government introduced the traffic light system on May 17, 2021, it vowed to review them at the beginning of October.
Travel expert Paul Charles has predicted the system could be overhauled in favour of a “simplified” system that would see the green and amber list blended into one.
In a tweet, he stated: “The traffic light system is expected to be scrapped by October 1 – at last.
“Airlines and some of us in the sector are aware of plans to create a simpler system, where countries are either red or not. This would be the US model in effect, which I’ve been calling for.
“Scrapping of traffic light system would be a relief to pretty well everyone and herald a ‘living with an endemic’ approach rather than blanket country measures.”
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