Downing Street 'not ruling out' return to local lockdowns in England

18 May 2021, 14:15

People queuing for Covid vaccinations at the ESSA academy in Bolton
People queuing for Covid vaccinations at the ESSA academy in Bolton. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

Downing Street has said that the need for local lockdowns in England has not been ruled out as the Government continues to monitor the spread of the Indian variant of Covid-19

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said today: "We are doing everything possible to ensure that we can proceed with the road map and that includes taking step four with June 21 being the earliest date for that.

"But whilst we are getting this data it is too early to speculate on what future measures we may or may not need to take.

"We are not ruling out those sort of measures at this stage whilst we are still looking at the data coming in."

READ MORE: Boris Johnson: 'Nothing conclusive to say UK must deviate from roadmap out of lockdown'

Speaking at a vaccination centre in London, the Prime Minister said: "We are looking at the epidemiology the whole time as it comes in and, at the moment, partly because we have built up such a wall of defences with the vaccination programme, I don't see anything conclusive at the moment to say that we need to deviate from the road map.

But we've got to be cautious and we are keeping everything under very close observation.

"We'll know a lot more in a few days' time."

Ministers have already said local lockdowns cannot be ruled out in future.

Environment secretary George Eustice also said that the Government currently still plans to lift all remaining Covid restrictions in England on the 21st of June.

But he said a delay can't be ruled out due to the spread of the India variant and that local lockdowns may have to be used.

Extra vaccine clinics have been set up in hotspots for the India strain, including in Blackburn.

Jane Scattergood is the vaccination director for Lancashire and South Cumbria. He said: "Around 17/18pc of people who are already eligible haven’t yet come forward.

"They’ve been invited but haven’t taken up the jab. They are reluctant, some wanted to wait and see, some just weren’t quite sure about it all - but the virus is rising.”

Yesterday the Health Secretary announced there were more than 2,300 cases of the Indian variant in the UK.

Downing Street has said that people should not be travelling to countries on the Government's "amber list" for foreign travel.

However the Prime Minister's official spokesman said travel was only permitted for a very limited number of reasons.

"The position remains that people should not travel to amber list countries and that is to protect public health," the spokesman said.

"We recognise that the restrictions that have been placed are difficult for the public. There may be essential reasons for which people still have to travel to amber list countries but of course strict quarantine and testing measures will apply.

"There are some limited reasons why it might be acceptable to travel - for work purposes, protecting essential services or compassionate reasons such as a funeral or care of a family member but otherwise people should not be travelling to these countries."