Coronavirus lockdown could be tightened in areas where infections rise after restrictions eased, Michael Gove says – The Sun

LOCKDOWN measures could be tightened in areas where infections rise under a "whack-a-mole" strategy to slowly ease restrictions.

Boris Johnson will address the nation next Sunday to explain a “roadmap” of how current restrictions will be lifted gradually at the same pace nationwide – starting towards the end of the month.

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But Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove insisted it is still “premature” to lift restrictions too early and would be the “worst thing to do” because it would risk a second spike in the disease.


NHS medical director Stephen Powis said during today's coronavirus briefing that the crucial ‘R’ value for the disease – the average number of people one infected person will pass on the virus to – is currently around 0.7 per cent in the UK as a whole.

It is lower than scientists believed it to be last week – although the PM is said to want to quash it even further before lifting restrictions.

Mr Gove said tonight that the Government will “pause or even reintroduce those restrictions” on specific sectors of society or certain areas that see a relapse in Covid-19 cases and where the ‘R’ value risks going above one.

This approach would give ministers and public health officials the ability to adapt a much more targeted and quicker response to local outbreaks of the virus – in contrast to the blanket lockdown that has been imposed on the UK since March 23.


It is being dubbed as a “whack-a-mole” strategy within Whitehall, with targeted measures to “hit hard” any coronavirus hotspots that erupt after the nationwide lockdown is lifted, the Sunday Times reported.

It could lead to even stricter restrictions being imposed on areas such as care homes, prisons or whole towns.

Mr Gove confirmed this approach on Sunday, telling the daily coronavirus briefing at No10: “It is important that we make clear that any approach we take is staged.

“A phased approach is one which allows us to monitor the impact that those changes are having on public health and if necessary, in a specific and localised way, that means that we can pause or even reintroduce those restrictions that might be required in order to deal with localised outbreaks of the disease.”

Mr Gove acknowledged that lockdown measures will have an impact on people’s “mental and emotional well-being” – as well as economic activity.


It comes as hand sanitizer is set to be installed on trains to protect commuters and persuade them it is safe to return to work.

Train platforms and bus stops will contain two metre markers to maintain social distancing and one-way systems will be in place at stations to help Brits use public transport in the safest way possible.


Ministers have also confirmed The Sun’s revelation that workplaces will be allowed to return to work after the second May bank holiday on May 26.

Employers will be ordered to stagger shifts and breakdown workers into blue and red ‘tag teams’ working alternative days.

Workers could even be asked to take daily saliva tests to check they are free of the virus.

A comprehensive guide for how employers must make their workplaces fit for social distancing will be unveiled by the Business Department this week.

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