Third of UK in tight lockdown but coronavirus ‘was slowing’ before rule of six

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A third of Brits will be living under some sort of coronaviruslockdown measures by tomorrow.

That's despite research suggesting infection rates slowed before the latest round of strict lockdown measures were brought in.

The reproduction (R) number decreased from 1.7 to 1.1 between September 18 and 26 which “suggests the rate of new infections has decreased”, a study by Imperial College London said.

It raises huge questions over whether the ‘rule of six’ and the controversial 10pm hospitality curfew for pubs and restaurants were necessary at all.

The findings were based on 84,610 samples. The “rule of six” was enforced on September 14, just four days before the study began, and the pubs and restaurants curfew started on September 24, just two days before the study ended.

Professor Robert Dingwall, of Nottingham Trent University, said: “The study shows the R rate was already falling significantly before the curfew was introduced so it begs the question of whether it was needed.

“I continue to have concerns about whether the curfew will work or just shift the problematic behaviour into the street, transport and homes.”

A ban on different households meeting will be introduced amid further restrictions for the north of England after a spike in coronavirus cases.

Meeting indoors in places such as pubs in the Liverpool City Region, Warrington, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough will be illegal from tomorrow.

However the Imperial report warned if the rate stays above 1 then the virus will keep the upper hand and we could be forced to keep repeating lockdown cycles.

“Professor Paul Elliott, at Imperial, said: “While our latest findings show some early evidence that the growth of new cases may have slowed, suggesting efforts to control the infection are working, the prevalence of infection is the highest that we have recorded to date.

“This reinforces the need for protective measures to limit the spread of the disease and the public’s adherence to these, which will be vital to minimise further significant illness and loss of life from Covid-19.”

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The Tories suffered a tongue lashing from their own MPs in Parliament over the 10pm curfew as they accused the government of throwing the hospitality industry to the wolves.

Philip Davies, MP for Shipley, who voted against the renewal of the Coronavirus Act, blasted health secretary Matt Hancock’s “arbitrary" 10pm time limit.

He said: “When will the Secretary of State start acting like a Conservative with a belief in individual responsibility and abandon this arbitrary, nanny state socialist approach which is serving no purpose at all apart from to further collapse the economy and erode our freedoms?”

But Mr Hancock countered: “It’s perfectly reasonable to make the argument that we should just let the virus rip, I just think that the hundreds of thousands of deaths that would follow is not a price that anyone should pay.

“I understand how much of an imposition this is. I want rules like this to stay in place for as short a time as possible, I’m sure we all do.

“Together we can crack this and the more people follow the rules and reduce their social contact, the quicker we can get Liverpool and the North East back on their feet.”

  • Coronavirus
  • Lockdown
  • Pubs

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