UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he does not want to impose a second national lockdown in the event of another COVID-19 outbreak, a media report said on Sunday.
Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph newspaper, Johnson said authorities were getting better at identifying and isolating local outbreaks, adding that the power to order national action will remain an option, the BBC reported.
“I can’t abandon that tool any more than I would abandon a nuclear deterrent. But it is like a nuclear deterrent, I certainly don’t want to use it. And nor do I think we will be in that position again,” he said.
Johnson told The Sunday Telegraph that experts were getting better at spotting the disease, isolating it locally and identifying which groups it affects and how.
“We’re genuinely able now to look at what’s happening in much closer to real time, to isolate outbreaks and to address them on the spot, and to work with local authorities to contain the problem locally and regionally if we have to.”
Johnson’s remarks come as councils in England have been given “lightning” lockdown powers.
Under the new powers, local authorities can close shops, cancel events and shut outdoor public spaces to manage local outbreaks.
While addressing the nation on Friday, the Prime Minister set out his hopes for a “significant return to normality” by Christmas.
Under the new guidelines, people can use public transport for journeys immediately, and employers will have more discretion to bring staff back to workplaces if it is safe to do so.
But the UK’s Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance warned that “come winter, the challenges will be very much greater and of course there is a risk that this could also need national measures as well”.
Professor John Edmunds, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told the BBC that a return to pre-lockdown normality was “a long way off”.
He said that activities such as going to work normally, travelling on public transport, going on holiday without restrictions, hugging and shaking hands with friends will not be returning any time soon.
“We won’t be able to do that until we are immune to the virus, which means until we have a vaccine that is proven safe and effective.
“If we return to those sort of normal behaviours, the virus will come back very fast,” he added.