Raab: Government hopes to avoid more 'severe' Covid restrictions over Christmas

23 September 2020, 08:36 | Updated: 23 September 2020, 14:36

By Megan White

Dominic Raab said the Government is hoping to avoid further coronavirus restrictions over Christmas after new lockdown rules were announced.

The Foreign Secretary claimed we have “got control of the virus” over the past six months but said the “winter months would be a challenge.”

Speaking to LBC’s Nick Ferrari, Mr Raab said the Government had introduced the new measures in a bid to avoid “more severe measures going into Christmas.”

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His comments came as Boris Johnson warned that measures, including a 10pm curfew for bars and restaurants and advising people to work from home, could last six months.

The Foreign Secretary said: "The reason we are taking the measures – and I appreciate they’ll be a challenge for some in the hospitality sector and for others, with the limit of six on households – is to make sure businesses keep rolling, that the recovery can keep mounting, that schools stay open, so that we don’t have to end up with more severe measures going into Christmas.

“If we get to a situation where we’ve been successful in bearing down on the virus, that the risk of an uptick, a flare up, a second spike of the level we had in March is dealt with, we can review then.

“What we don’t want to do is have to take even more severe measures as we go through Christmas, and that’s why we need to take the proportionate and targeted measures we’re taking now.”

Asked about Boris Johnson’s comment that the military could help support the police, Mr Raab said: “We’re taking a whole suite of targeted measures.

“The aim is, as we’ve come through the worst peak, we don’t allow the virus to regain control over the country.

“We’ve seen an uptick in cases, we don’t want to go back to the situation we were in March, so we’re taking a whole range of measures.

“On this issue of the military, obviously the Army have done a sterling job throughout – they’ve helped deliver PPE, they’ve helped with the delivering of tests, a range of other things.

“The idea is that they are always on hand to backfill some of the public service provision, including what the police do, in order to free up the frontline providers, including police officers, to go and do more of the things they need to do.

“So as police officers, with the increased fines for businesses and those that don’t adhere to the rules - the overwhelming majority have, but we need everyone to – the police get a bit of support in those backroom areas in particular.”

Asked if the military could enforce mask wearing or other restrictions, Mr Raab said he “can’t imagine we’d end up in that position,” adding: “The point is, they’re ready to backfill or provide extra capacity where the police need it, so that it frees the police up to do the frontline work that’s important for them.”

The lastest measures include:

- People who can to work from home should do so but construction workers, retail staff and people performing essential services should continue to go to work

- From Thursday, pubs, bars and restaurants will be table service only and hospitality venues will be subject to a 10pm closing time

- Face coverings will be required for retail staff, taxi passengers and hospitality customers except where seated

- Covid-secure guidelines will become legal obligations for retail, leisure and tourism firms, with businesses facing fines or closure for failing to comply

- From Monday, a maximum of 15 people will be allowed at wedding ceremonies and receptions

- The rule of six will be extended to cover indoor team sports, such as five-a-side football games

- Plans to allow business conferences and sporting events from October 1 have been shelved