Circuit breaker will 'critically affect' economy, Tory Mayor warns

14 October 2020, 10:46 | Updated: 14 October 2020, 13:13

A circuit breaker lockdown would critically affect the economy
A circuit breaker lockdown would critically affect the economy. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

A Conservative Mayor has warned a blanket circuit breaker lockdown will "critically affect" businesses and force many to close.

A "circuit breaker" would see the UK placed under blanket restrictions which would resemble those seen in March, in the hope it would combat the alarming rise in coronavirus cases.

But there are warnings that this would wreak further havoc on the economy, which has already been hit with a three-year high in unemployment and redundancies at their highest levels since 2009.

The UK is bracing itself for the second wave of infections, and is seeing a huge increase in daily infections and a climbing number of deaths.

To combat the spread Boris Johnson has laid out his "three tier" approach, which sees areas assigned restrictions based on the severity of the spread.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street warned that Tier 2 restrictions imposed on parts of the region's hospitality sector could lead to "closure by default" for many businesses.

In a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Mr Street said getting clarity and reassurance on what support his region would receive from the Government was "a matter of urgency."

The Conservative mayor wrote: "The decision to place the West Midlands into the 'high' alert level will critically affect businesses in the hospitality sector.

"Households cannot now mix within these establishments. These firms may not be formally required to close their doors, but they will face significantly reduced patronage.

Read more: Government Minister plays down idea of circuit breaker lockdown

"Under these new restrictions, many businesses will struggle to cover costs and will have to resort to redundancies. This could amount to a closure by default, if not by law.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is among those calling for a "circuit breaker" lockdown at the end of the month.

In comments from a 'senior government source' - widely shared by many political journalists - Keir Starmer was accused of "playing political games" by calling for a national circuit breaker lockdown.

They said: "Keir Starmer is a shameless opportunist playing political games in the middle of a global pandemic. He says he wants a national lockdown but he’s refusing to vote for targeted restrictions in areas that need them most”.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey has also said she did not think a circuit-breaker lockdown was the right move.

Asked by LBC's Nick Ferrari whether there was appetite in the Conservative Party for a two to three-week lockdown, she said: "No, I don't.

"The reason being, Parliament has only just voted last night for this national approach of the three tiers with much stronger local measures where they are needed.

"And we need to take communities with us right across the country in having some of the national measures, but frankly the Labour Party was saying 19 out of 20 areas in these lockdowns haven't made any difference, now they want to see a national lockdown.

"I don't think it is the right approach. Right now we need to allow this chance for the localised interventions to really have an effect so that together we can be focused on saving lives and livelihoods."

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